Muff Singer, 62; Wrote Books for Children

From a Times Staff Writer

Muff Singer, a former political activist who became a popular author of books for very young children, died Sunday at her home in the Palms-Mar Vista area of Los Angeles. She was 62.

The cause was ovarian cancer, said her husband, former Los Angeles City Controller Rick Tuttle.

Singer's first published book, in 1981, was "The Mystery Reader's Quiz Book," co-written with Robert A. Wagner and Aneta Corsault. She turned to children's books in the late 1980s after the birth of her daughter, Sarah.

Over the last two decades, Singer wrote or co-wrote more than 35 books for toddlers and preschoolers, many of which -- such as "Hello, Piglet!" and "Puppy to Love" -- came with a stuffed or squeaking version of the story's main character.

A Chicago native with a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, Singer joined the Peace Corps in 1965 and taught in a penal colony in the Philippines for two years. She returned to the United States to work for the presidential campaign of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), during which she met Tuttle. They were married in 1976.

She worked for 10 years as chief of staff for Howard L. Berman, the former assemblyman who now serves in the House of Representatives, and later helped manage the campaigns of her husband, a UCLA administrator who served four terms as city controller during the 1980s and 1990s.

In addition to picture books, Singer co-wrote, with Nancy Lamb, a book for older children called "The World's Greatest Toe Show." It earned delighted reviews, in part because of its first line, which announced that the main character kept her father's toe in a matchbox. But she often said that her favorite book was one written with her daughter called "Look Around with Little Fish."

In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by her parents, Bernard and Goldryn Singer of Santa Monica; a sister, Caren Singer of Silver Lake; a niece; and a nephew.

A service will be held at 10 a.m. today at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. Memorial donations may be sent to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, 910 17th St. N.W., Suite 413, Washington, DC 20006; the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, c/o Davis Group, 1119 Colorado Ave., Suite 112, Santa Monica, CA 90401; or the United Farm Workers, P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA 93531.

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