Friday, March 6, 2009

Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem, by Jack Prelutsky

Kids love to laugh and tell jokes and funny stories. It's a winning combination. So what better way to get them to enjoy reading and writing poetry than to have them laugh?! The author Jack Prelutsky, our nation's first Children's Poet Laureate, has written a funny, helpful guide to writing poetry, perfect for kids ages 7 to 12.
by Jack Prelutsky
published by HarperCollins, 2008
ages 7 - 12
Children love hearing poems that are written for them. They love the rhythm, the rhyming, the silliness, the twists on words. But writing them can be a daunting prospect. Prelutsky has wonderful advice that will engage students' imaginations. He begins by telling stories - funny stories - of when he grew up. He tells about when he painted his dad's boring white underwear and then pinned it to the wall. And then he shares a poem "I Wonder Why Dad is So Thoroughly Mad" (here's a little bit of it):
I wonder why Dad is so thoroughly mad,
I can't understand it at all,
unless it's the bee still afloat in his tea,
or his underwear, pinned to the wall.

Perhaps it's the dye on his favorite tie,
or the mousetrap that snapped in his shoe,
or the pipeful of gum that he found with his thumb,
or the toilet, sealed tightly with glue.
Best of all, though, is that Prelutsky follows his poems with writing tips to prompt kids to start writing their own poetry. For example, he asks kids to write down as much as they can about something they did that made their parents mad at them. "Did you fling spaghetti at the ceiling? Did you draw on the wall with crayons? Did you switch the salt and the sugar? These are all wonderful things to write about. Write about how you did it. You'll have lots of fun writing about your won misbehavior. By the way, I did all those things ... and more." These tips range from encouraging kids to play with rhyming words, to using lists to help brainstorm about memories. Throughout, Prelutsky advises kids to keep a notebook to jot down every idea, give their ideas time to develop, rewrite and have fun.

Find it at Amazon (this is the sort of book you'll want to have around for a while!). It isn't available at our local public libraries yet.

Do you love poetry? Check out other links on the web to Poetry Friday, hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.

This review is written by Mary Ann Scheuer for Great Kid Books. Copywright 2009, all rights reserved.


  1. I like Jack Prelutsky poems. This sounds like a great addition to a classroom library (and my own personal collection!). Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds like a great book for my elementary school age kids. I probably wouldn't have known how to handle a kid like Jack Prelutsky as a child, but I am sure his parents knew how to give him room to develop his wacky and wonderful ways of looking at the world.

  3. I love this book! So kids' friendly...and one that I find myself turning to over and over...