When Jack Prelutksy posted the first couplet of a funny poem on a Web site and invited children to finish it, he expected about 100 responses. He got thousands. Now he has come up with an anthology of poems on 10 popular subjects by well-known poets and combined it with his own “poemstarts.” Included with each poemstart are suggestions for various ways the reader might continue the poem. With large type and a big red stop sign, it is made abundantly clear that the reader get a pencil and paper to complete the poem. Jack Prelutsky has been credited with making poetry fun for children to read. Now he is making poetry fun for children to write!
Prelutsky's (It's Raining Pigs and Noodles) latest poetry anthology (which includes a couple of his own pieces) encourages youngsters to try their hand at the art of verse, offering them a boost with his "poemstarts" (a concept he has used successfully on the Web, according to his opening letter to readers). On each spread, he presents three poems and one "poemstart," covering one of 10 topics, from dogs and birthdays to friendship and feelings. The "food poemstart," for instance, begins, "I'm hungry, so I think that I/ Will have a piece of penguin pie./ When that is finished, I will eat/ A _________." Backed by a block of bright color in the upper right corner of every spread, the poemstarts also build in a list of rhyming words or helpful hints to get writers going, (e.g., "Just imagine all the ridiculous things you might eat that rhyme with the word "eat"). So's (Hurry and the Monarch) lively watercolors light up the pages with their whimsy and vividness. For the turtle theme, the artist riffs on Douglas Florian's poem ("This bony dome's/ My mobile home"): several critters crawl across the pages, each supporting a teepee or igloo on its back. With poems from the likes of Aileen Fisher, Ogden Nash and Dr. Seuss, and some pragmatic advice ("Don't worry too much about making the poem rhyme it's more important to express your feelings"), Prelutsky's poetry primer will have children eager to play with words. Ages 5-8.