Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry

( 24 )


Have you ever tried to write a poem about a pizza? How about a pig? How about a pigeon, penguin, potato, Ping-Pong, parrot, puppy, pelican, porcupine, pie, pachyderm, or your parents?

Jack Prelutsky has written more than one thousand poems about all of these things—and many others. In this book he gives you the inside scoop on writing poetry and shows you how you can turn your own experiences and stories about your family, your pets, and your friends into poems. He offers tips, ...

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Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry

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Have you ever tried to write a poem about a pizza? How about a pig? How about a pigeon, penguin, potato, Ping-Pong, parrot, puppy, pelican, porcupine, pie, pachyderm, or your parents?

Jack Prelutsky has written more than one thousand poems about all of these things—and many others. In this book he gives you the inside scoop on writing poetry and shows you how you can turn your own experiences and stories about your family, your pets, and your friends into poems. He offers tips, advice, and secrets about writing and provides some fun exercises to help you get started (or unstuck). You'll also get a behind-the-scenes look at the ingredients of some of his most popular poems. If you are a poet, want to be a poet, or if you have to write a poem for homework and you just need some help, then this is the book for you!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Although Prelutsky's (My Dog May Be a Genius, reviewed above) popularity and his role as the first children's poet laureate will excite hopes for this primer, his advice on writing poetry is limited and disorganized, albeit presented in his usual gleeful voice. He arranges his book in sections that each include an anecdote ("My Father's Underwear," "An Awful, Awful Meal") followed by the poem or poems inspired by the experience and a lengthy "Writing Tip." However, he repeats much the same advice regardless of the ostensible topic. Prelutsky tells would-be poets to keep a notebook and/or to make lists in at least 10 sections; he counsels them to "exaggerate" in five. Sometimes the writing tip offers directions for a specific poem ("Write about your mother's rules and... why they drive you crazy"). A few of Prelutsky's assertions may raise some eyebrows ("A poem doesn't always have to be about something. You're allowed to write a poem about pretty much nothing at all," he opines, going on to say that sound can be as important as meaning), and for the most part his tips, appropriately, apply only to humorous poems. While this is not a book for teachers seeking a comprehensive guide, readers looking for the story behind a particular Prelutsky verse will enjoy the book, as will kids who want to try on Prelutsky's style. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
There is nobody better than the best to teach kids (and grownups who are wise enough to read this book) how to write great poems! Using examples from his best-selling poetry books (e.g., New Kid on the Block, Something Big Has Been Here, A Pizza the Size of the Sun, and lots more), Prelutsky takes writers through the steps of finding ideas, shaping them into poems, writing about people, using real life as a source, crafting punchy endings, and understanding the reason for rhyme. A terrific guide for all ages, the book is aimed squarely at kids. Writing exercises and entertaining, enlightening stories get writers feeling great about poems that are waiting to be written. A short glossary and some informal construction tips on repetition, meter, puns, rhyme, and even non-rhyming poems really make this a great textbook for teaching poetry without pretense. For adults who want to write poetry—for kids or not—this is a terrific beginning tool. A short index of the poems cited in the text concludes the book. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 7 to 11.

For many years, readers have enjoyed Jack Prelutsky's poetry. Now, this Children's Poet Laureate invites the reader inside his creative world of poetry writing. Prelutsky shares his craft by providing many writing tips, ideas, and forms of poetry for aspiring young poets. He includes several of his poems to help illustrate the final product of his poetry writing process. Furthermore, Prelutsky reveals more of his writing world by telling the interesting and amusing anecdotes about how events in his life provide fun-filled, amusing topics or silly, wild ideas for his poems. Whether it is his mother's rules, food, or word play, Prelutsky finds a poem just waiting for him to nurture and bring to life. He even describes how some topics take time before they develop into poems. His enthusiasm and passion for writing will inspire young poets to grab a pen and start writing. Prelutsky provides poetry starters to help nudge the young writer. This book would be a great addition for a poetry unit. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6- In this engaging book, the popular and prolific Prelutsky relates personal anecdotes and then shows how he created poems from them, in most cases by using comic exaggeration to suit his artistic purposes. Some are from his childhood, like "My Mother Says I'm Sickening," which grew out of playing with his food at the dinner table. ("My mother says I'm sickening/My mother says I'm crude/She says this when she sees me/Playing Ping-Pong with my food.") Others are more recent. Something as simple as buying a banana from a street vendor led to "I'm Building a Bridge of Bananas." Also included are plenty of writing tips, with practical, lively suggestions ideal for the target age group. Prelutsky repeatedly advises readers to keep a notebook and write down every idea, to give ideas time to percolate, to rewrite, and to have fun. Even when defining poetic terms, he is humorous and conversational: "Poetic license is my favorite license," he claims, before going on to offer a simple and understandable definition. The book concludes with a list of "Poemstarts to Get You Started." A good addition for public, school, and classroom libraries.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

Kirkus Reviews
For readers fond of Prelutsky's style, this volume offers both pointers on how to write similarly silly verse and just what inspired him to do so in the first place. Though some children may find his reminiscences mysterious-after all, his childhood was quite a while back and kids today might not understand just how playing catch with a meatball could ever seem like fun-the connections between his memories and poems are clearly drawn. Prelutsky begins each section with a brief story, then presents a poem or two inspired by the memory or experience; a writing tip that relates to the poem(s) follows. The tips are fairly unremarkable (for example, write about your own experiences or always carry a notebook) and occasionally repetitious. Small black-and-white illustrations and borders decorate some of the pages. While Prelutsky's poetry is generally playful and appealing, the decision to deconstruct it reveals a certain sameness to the works included here that may make emulating his style easier but may also detract from the reader's appreciation of same. (Nonfiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641984471
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky was the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate. He has filled more than fifty books of verse with his inventive wordplay, including the national bestsellers Scranimals, illustrated by Peter Sís, and The New Kid on the Block, as well as the picture books Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, both illustrated by Carin Berger. He lives in Washington State.

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Read an Excerpt

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry AER

Chapter One

My Father's Underwear

I'm going to admit something to you. When I was a little boy, a looooooong time ago, I was not the best-behaved little boy in the history of the United States of America. It's true! Every once in a while . . . actually pretty often . . . okay, every day, I did something that made my father mad at me.

My father was a wonderful man, but he was only human and did have his limits, so he got mad at me, and I'm sure I deserved it. When my father got mad at me, he did not run around and jump up and down and get all bent out of shape and yell and scream and cry and tear out his hair (he couldn't do that anyhow, because he was bald) and get hysterical and throw a tantrum. No . . . that was my mother's job.

My father was just the opposite. He suddenly got very quiet. His eyes narrowed, and his face grew serious, with the western gunfighter look that says, "You got till sundown to ride on out of town or I'm a-comin' for you." His voice got very soft and very deep, and he simply gestured to me with his index finger and said, "Come here, son." Uh-oh! I knew that when my father said "Come here, son" in that certain special way, I was in big trouble.

You may wonder what I did in that situation. I did exactly the same thing that most of you would do. I denied everything. "No, no, Daddy!" I said. "I didn't do it. I'm innocent. I've been behaving. I've been a good boy . . . but I know who did it. My brother. He's right over there. Get him!" Amazingly, sometimes that worked. Sometimes it was even true. But of course my brother did the same thing to me, so it kind of evened out.Sometimes I got punished for things he did, sometimes he got punished for things I did, sometimes we both got punished even though we didn't do anything, and sometimes we didn't get punished at all when we deserved it. It all evened out.

One of the things that I did to make my father so mad at me was to pin his underwear up on the wall. Before I did that, though, I decorated it. You see, my father wore really boring white underwear, and I wanted to make it pretty, so I painted it with finger paint. Then I pinned it to the wall. My father didn't like that at all.

Once I put a bug in his coffee cup, and another time I put breadcrumbs in his bed. I did lots of other stuff too. I made a list of all the things like that I could remember, then picked some of them to put in a poem called "I Wonder Why Dad Is So Thoroughly Mad."

I Wonder Why Dad Is So Thoroughly Mad

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.

It can't be the bread crumbled up in his bed,
or the slugs someone left in the hall,
I wonder why Dad is so thoroughly mad,
I can't understand it at all.

Writing Tip #1

Unless you're a perfect child, and I doubt that you are...for I've met tens of thousands of children, and I've never met a perfect child yet...I suspect that you misbehave from time to time. Perhaps you're the way I was when I was a kid and like to play practical jokes on your parents or on your brothers and sisters. I pulled lots of practical jokes on my brother. The advantage of playing practical jokes on my brother rather than my parents was that he couldn't punish me for them.

Think about something you did, accidentally or on purpose, that made your parents mad at you. Write down as much about it as you can. 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, why you did it, and what happened when you did it. You'll have lots of fun writing about your own misbehavior. by the way, I did all those things . . . and more. You see, I also was not a perfect child, but you already knew that.

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry AER. Copyright © by Jack Prelutsky. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 2, 2011

    what a book

    wow this book gives tips on how to write poems!!! I love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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