The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury

4.6 3
by Jack Prelutsky, Meilo So

View All Available Formats & Editions

"Until this century, most children's poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers. Contemporary children's poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today's real child in mind."
- from the Introduction by Jack Prelutsky

Here in one gloriously illustrated


"Until this century, most children's poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers. Contemporary children's poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today's real child in mind."
- from the Introduction by Jack Prelutsky

Here in one gloriously illustrated volume are 211 wonderful poems that represent the best this century has to offer. From sibling rivalry, school, monsters, food, and just plain silliness, to such ageless themes as the seasons, Who am I?, and the many moods of childhood, this is a collection that begs to be read aloud and shared with the whole family. The poems, from every decade of this century, showcase 137 famous poets.

Selected by Jack Prelutsky, America's leading children's poet, and illustrated by award-winning watercolorist Meilo So, this useful and beautiful gift is a splendid way to end the century — or start a new one. Truly a book that families will cherish long after the millennium excitement is over, The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury is a joyous companion volume to the best-selling The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury.

This book has been selected as a Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar (Grades K-1, 2-3, Poetry) in Appendix B.

Editorial Reviews

Susan Marie Swanson
There is a lot to like in The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury. Jack Prelutsky knows poetry for children, and it's fun to take a tour with him as guide. And Meilo So is exactly the right artist for the project. It's as if she's taken a magic watercolor brush and swept it across the page. If ever there was a poetry book to celebrate the fact that books can open out to big double-page spreads, this is it.
Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For this companion to The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury, Prelutsky combed more than 4000 poetry volumes to select 211 poems by 137 poets. His sampling includes established poets like Langston Hughes, Shel Silverstein and e.e. cummings, but, to Prelutsky's credit, not necessarily their best-known works. The overriding mood is rollickingly upbeat, uncharacteristic for a form renowned for its adeptness at expressing moments of grief or loneliness. Hats off to So (The Beauty of the Beast, with Prelutsky), who visually holds the anthology together. Her people are engagingly limber, her animals unmatched: for instance, she evokes the fitful movements of a squirrel with a few calligraphic strokes, and her wet-on-wet technique suggests the fluffy texture of a kitten's fur or the speed of leaping salmon. In one spread, she ingeniously accommodates eight bug poems--from poets as diverse as Ogden Nash and Valerie Worth; the poems themselves appear to flit about a central image of two children nearly hidden in a field of wildflowers. She connects four stand-alone poems in another spread ("A Hippopotamusn't" by J. Patrick Lewis and "The Click Clacker Machine" by Donna Lugg Pape are two of them) with a unified palette of pinks and lavenders. Its unvarying tone notwithstanding, this eye-catching collection is likely to lure both future fans of verse and poetry devotees. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
With over 200 poems and over 130 poets, this extensive collection is a great addition to any library. All of the top children's poets are included, both contemporary and past, such as Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Even poets that we often may not associate with children's poetry, such as Langston Hughes and Robert Frost, have been included here. Separated into themes, this book covers a wide range of topics, including nature, city life, word play and food. For the lover of poetry or those wanting to instill an appreciation for verse in their child, this is a great collection. 1999, Alfred A. Knopf, $21.99 and $19.95. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede
Library Journal
Gr 1-6-This volume, described in Prelutsky's introduction as representative of the "scope and variety of children's verse produced in the twentieth century," contains 211 poems by 137 poets. Some are well known, such as Shel Silverstein, Karla Kuskin, and Prelutsky himself. Some have written mainly for adults, e.g., John Updike, Langston Hughes, and e. e. cummings. Lesser-known and more recently published poets, such as Janet Wong, Deborah Chandra, and Nikki Grimes, are included as well. The greatest number are from the United States. While all of these selections have been published elsewhere, the format and illustrations in this collection give them new life. Poems are presented in unlabeled small groups that cross each double-page spread. Some of these groupings are clearly understood from their content, such as those on the seasons or on insects. Others require readers to think about common threads or themes as they read and study the illustrations, such as the cluster of poems on ways of creating. In another grouping, Prelutsky pairs poems of bats and mice with a poem about creatures who see better at night, calling attention to their shared physical characteristics. So's watercolor illustrations are, by turn, impressionistic, childlike, silly, and serious, as called for by the tone of the poems featured. Sometimes the artist creates one unifying illustration across the spread, such as a cityscape at night that features all types of light found in the group of poems presented there. A splendid collection.-Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.44(w) x 11.19(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
3 Months to 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"We Are Plooters"

We are Plooters,
We don't care,
We make messes
We strip forests
Bare of trees,
We dump garbage
In the seas.

We are Plooters,
We enjoy
Finding beauty
To destroy,
We intrude
Where creatures thrive,
Soon there's little
Left alive.

Nothing's safe
When we're around,
We spew poisons
In the air,
We are Plooters,
We don't care.

-Jack Prelutsky
Copyright © 1993 by Jack Prelutsky. Used by permission of the author, who controls all rights.

"Where Are You Now?"

When the night begins to fall
And the sky begins to glow
You look up and see the tall
City of light begin to grow —
In rows and little golden squares
The lights come out. First here, then there
Behind the windowpanes as though
A million billion bees had built
Their golden hives and honeycombs
Above you in the air.

-Mary Britton Miller
From All Aboard by Mary Britton Miller. Copyright © 1958 by Pantheon Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Meet the Author

For 30 years, Jack Prelutsky’s inventive poems have inspired legions of children to fall in love with poetry. His outrageously silly poems have tickled even the most stubborn funny bones, while his darker verses have spooked countless late-night readers. His award-winning books include Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, and The Beauty of the Beast

While attending a Bronx, New York, grade school, Prelutsky took piano and voice lessons and was a regular in school shows. Surprisingly, Prelutsky developed a healthy dislike for poetry due to a teacher who “left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. I was told it was good for me, but I wasn’t convinced.”

In his early twenties, Prelutsky spent six months drawing imaginary animals in ink and watercolor. One evening, he wrote two dozen short poetry verses to accompany each drawing. A friend encouraged him to show them to an editor, who loved his poems (although not his artwork!) and urged him to keep writing. Prelutsky listened and he is still busy writing.
Jack Prelutsky lives on Mercer Island in Washington with his wife, Carolynn.

Meilo So's first collaboration with Jack Prelutsky was the ALA Notable Book The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom, of which The New York Times Book Review wrote: "Meilo So does enchantingly unreal paintings: whimsical watercolors made with a wet-on-wet technique that preserves the spontaneity of her hand gestures. In very few brush strokes, she captures the essence of organisms from stallions to sea horses. Yet the images themselves are abstract, almost calligraphic pictograms." Her most recent book is Tasty Baby Belly Buttons by Judy Sierra. Meilo So was born in Hong Kong and now lives in England with her husband, who is also an artist.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing portry book. Kids all over the World live to read books like these and i think this was their favorite. Keep up the good work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book introduced many poets and styles that I had not encountered. It is so hard to introduce poetry to kids & get them to really enjoy it. This book may just do the trick. It's great fun to read aloud & get silly with it! It's also beautifully illustrated and arranged by subject. I love it & will use it often!