Today, on Poetry Friday, I want to celebrate the poet Jack Prelutsky. I own several of his holiday poem books, gifted to me by my mom who used them for years in her third grade classroom. Subsequently, I used them for years for my third grade writer’s circle.
Jack Prelutsky is an American born poet who is now 80 years old. According to the PoetryFoundation.org he served as the first American Children’s Poet Laureate from 2006-2008. He’s written 70 children’s books and writes with imagination about everything he encounters – even his plate of spaghetti!
Prelutsky’s poems are fun and utilize some elements of style that are easy for a eight year old to emulate. When I got out his It’s Halloween book this morning, I read through the pages. What struck me was his use of everyday objects and events, as well as his use of repetition. In several poems, such as Bobbing for Apples and Skeleton Parade, Prelutsky uses repetition of “sight words” to give the poems some excitement. Of course, I do not think “sight words” were known as such when Mr. Prelutsky had these poems published in 1972. But, they are none-the-less, known as such , now. And, the repetition is effective!
The skeletons are out tonight,
They march about the street
With bony bodies, bony heads
And bony hands and feet.
Bony bony bony bones
with nothing in between,
Up and down and all around
They march on Halloween.
© Jack Prelutsky, 1972, It’s Halloween.
The easily read text doesn’t require a lot of comprehension of anything other than recognizing a fun holiday experience which most children can relate to. There isn’t the need for deep understanding or interpretation like what might be required in the future poems children encounter, like The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, as they progress through their required integrated language arts courses.
The illustrations of Marylin Hafner bring the poems to life on each page as well. I cannot think of a group of young writers I had who did not enjoy Prelutsky’s poems in these books celebrating American holidays.
Winner, Winner Poetry Beginner!
Earlier this week I received a copy of Hop To It from Jone Rush MacCollough as I was the winner of a giveaway of this book on her blog! I was so excited to hear that I was the winner of this book! It’s been fun to read the poems of many of the authors I’ve had the chance to have a brief conversation with through comments on their blog posts for Poetry Friday!
And, much to my surprise, on page 22 was a poem called 2020 by Jack Prelutsky! He still has the knack for making me (and, probably many others) laugh! Winning this book, reading many of the fun poems, and finding a favorite children’s poet on the pages inspired me to write this post honoring Jack Prelutsky today!
Another Poet to Learn From
Finally, I made a quick visit to the bookstore this week. I was there to get a couple of new novels for my husband. He has been reading the same series over Young Adult books for several months now. We both enjoy a book in our hands at night instead of a digital copy on our phone or my nook. I knew what I was looking for, found it, and quickly picked up another novel as well since he reads much more quickly than I.
But, before I left, I had to browse a little bit and picked up a copy of Mary Oliver’s, A Poetry Handbook (1994). I am somewhat ashamed to say that although I am formally trained as an environmental educator, and routinely incorporate all subject areas (including writing) into my lessons, I only recently discovered Oliver. And, not surprisingly, my introduction to Oliver was during an Environmental Day Event called Wetland Days where I taught a session on haiku writing to sixth through 8th graders last year at this time. One of the other session presenters, an adjunct lecturer at our local university sat in on one of my groups. After, he asked if I followed Oliver’s writing. I had to admit that no I was unfamiliar with much of what she wrote. But, his inquiry spurred my interest. Much of my own writing is nature inspired, so I knew I had much to learn from a poet as talented as Oliver. Thus, my browsing didn’t last long once I found Oliver’s handbook.
At the end of the Wetland Days session, one of the 8th grade group teachers stopped back and asked me, “so are you a scientist or a writer?” I was proud to answer, “both!” I think that life informs all of our writing, no matter our professional roots. Luckily, I have that in common with the poets featured today.
Today is Poetry Friday! Our host for this week is the author of Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama Rattigan. Please check out her page for lots of great poems, illustrations, and great looking food! Thank you for hosting!