Gift Guide

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: And Other Poems


Beloved and bestselling poet Jack Prelutsky and New York Times Best Illustrated artist Carin Berger team up to create a new collection of silly, strange, and sensational animal poems! Told through couplets and visually arresting shadow boxes, dioramas, and cut-paper collage, Stardines Swim High Across the Sky evokes both natural history museums and wild and silly fantasy. "The zoology may be suspect, but the laughs are guaranteed."—Publishers Weekly

Sixteen extraordinary ...

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Beloved and bestselling poet Jack Prelutsky and New York Times Best Illustrated artist Carin Berger team up to create a new collection of silly, strange, and sensational animal poems! Told through couplets and visually arresting shadow boxes, dioramas, and cut-paper collage, Stardines Swim High Across the Sky evokes both natural history museums and wild and silly fantasy. "The zoology may be suspect, but the laughs are guaranteed."—Publishers Weekly

Sixteen extraordinary imagined creatures inhabit the pages of this unique, inspired, humorous picture book ideal for sharing together, and for reading again and again. Jack Prelutsky reinvents many familiar and beloved animals by combining inanimate objects with them (so, for example, a pair of pants and an anteater become a panteater). Carin Berger's illustrations are showstoppers. Her shadow boxes and dioramas utilize vintage type, ephemera, and such elements as ribbon, cards, buttons, and wood and bring the animals to life. Read it aloud, read it together: this is a catalog of effervescent silliness and will undoubtedly inspire young poets and artists alike. "The total effect is both whimsical and fascinating, with rich language in the poems and unexpected objects in the pictures to return to over and over again.'—The Horn Book

Supports the Common Core State Standards

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Prelutsky crafts his usual clever verses, this time about a series of sixteen imaginary creatures with humorous qualities we can easily picture. His stardines swim across the sky, for example, "...their brilliant lights/ Illuminate the darkest nights." No one dreads his fountain lions; "They all have fountains on their heads." The sobcat "...spends its time crying/ Continuously." Other interesting and amusing characters include bluffaloes, slobsters, jollyfish, the gloose, and wedgehogs. Paralleling Prelutsky's delightful linguistic productions we find Berger's inventive images, miniature dioramas that are assemblages of very complex combinations of materials, ultimately photographed digitally. Assorted tacking pins and labels mixed with small groups of stardines on the end pages and title pages prepare us for the full page visuals and accompanying tacked-on page of text. Invention is the name of the visual game, with intellectual challenge to match the esthetic. The paper jacket is illustrated with jollyfish and stardines; simulated wood and a couple of simple labels adorn the cover. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Prelutsky has created unusual creatures through odd pairings of usual things, and crossing stars and sardines is just one interesting idea he explores: "In giant schools, their brilliant lights/Illuminate the darkest nights." Sixteen short poems each focus on an animal with a surprise twist. "Slobsters" are a mess and "Plandas" think things out to a fault. Some selections, like "Jollyfish," focus on a creature's personality, while others, like "Gloose," deal more with physical traits or habits, like "Panteater." The singsong rhymes are clever, and the collage art, created by combining cut paper and found objects, brings the book to life. These creatures are entertaining by themselves but also could make terrific inspiration for children interested in coming up with their own imaginary animals.—Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
Publishers Weekly
In a similar vein to his Scranimals (2002), Prelutsky presents hybrid creatures with attributes produced by altering or adding a single letter in their names: “The gloose may be the weirdest bird/ That ever took to wing./ It has an odd propensity/ To stick to anything.” A sobcat “spends its time crying/ Continuously,” while “Jollyfish are radiant/ Ebullient blobs of mirth.” Prelutsky’s fake-pompous verse is as clever as ever, and Berger’s artwork is its visual equivalent. She creates spectacular three-dimensional papercraft boxes and collages in the manner of Joseph Cornell, labeling the wooden frames with old-fashioned, typewritten stickers. The glooses’ tiny feathers are cut carefully from paper, while magpipes are assembled from engraved images of plucked poultry and brass piping; streamers of paper emblazoned with musical notes curl from the pipes—a witty representation of sound. The poems are typewritten on scraps of paper and mounted with butterfly pins. The whole has the feel of a vintage science project by the weirdest (and most imaginative) kid in class. The zoology may be suspect, but the laughs are guaranteed. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Prelutsky and Berger are back with 16 new specimens of poem and collage, meticulously rendered to excite and amuse. After traveling the globe for creatures of animal and inanimate origin, the master of verse returns to share his discoveries. Procrastinating pandas, self-adhering geese and cacophonous magpies are a few of the carefully selected creatures on display for readers' enjoyment. Budding naturalists will relish the details both author and illustrator offer. From the dour to the delightful, Prelutsky describes each creature in detail, packing each line with punchy playfulness: "JOLLYFISH are radiant, / Ebullient blobs of mirth, / With merry dispositions / From the moment of their birth. / ... / Their humor is infectious, / And as aimlessly they drift, / Their buoyant effervescence / Gives the neighborhood a lift." Berger's cleverly designed assemblages—created from ephemera and digitally manipulated vintage etchings—offer the wonder and fascination of a curio shop. Her dioramas in particular, with their steampunk aesthetic, lend an aura of authenticity to these eclectic creatures. Whimsy takes flight in this humorous collection. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062014658
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky is the best-selling author of more than fifty books of poetry, including The New Kid on the Block, illustrated by James Stevenson, and Stardines Swim High Across the Sky, illustrated by Carin Berger. Jack Prelutsky lives in Washington State.

Carin Berger is an award-winning designer and illustrator. Her cut-paper collages are made using ephemera, such as catalogues, old books, receipts, letters, and ticket stubs. In a starred review, Kirkus said of her Forever Friends, "Sophisticated, sensitive, and accessible, this picture book will offer new insights and pleasures with each season." The Little Yellow Leaf was a 2008 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books selection, and in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called her A Perfect Day "lovely." She is also the illustrator of the acclaimed Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, both by Jack Prelutsky, among other books. She lives with her family in New York City.

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