The poetry of Jack Prelusky
If you are looking for poetry your child will actually enjoy, even laugh out loud at, even ask for more, Jack Prelusky is your answer. Jack Prelusky’s poems are humorous, playful, witty, quirky, full twists and turns and surprise endings. Jack has a vivid childlike imagination and can turn anything into a fun poem. Prelusky is also great at capturing the emotions of a child. Prelutsky has written more than 50 poetry collections. His most popular collections include:
- Something BIG has been there
- The New Kid on the Block
- A Pizza the Size of the Sun
- It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles
These four collections of poems are beautifully illustrated by James Stevenson, with pen and ink drawings, in perfect pitch with Prelusky’s playfulness and humor.
Jack was born in 1940 and grew up in New York City. He now lives in Seattle, with his wife Carolyn and assorted pets.
Did Prelusky enjoy poetry as a child?
He says no. In grade school, he had a teacher who left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. She would read what he considered the most boring poems in the most boring tone, and the whole class would wilt.
How did he become a poet?
Jack says he always enjoyed playing with language, but discovered writing as a career only by accident when he was a young adult. He tried his hand at drawing and spent months drawing several imaginary animals. A friend encouraged him to show the drawings to an editor. He decided at the last minute to add some poems to go along with the drawings. When the editor — Susan Hirschman — called him it was not the drawings she raved about, but the poetry. She thought he had a rare talent for writing verse. She published his first book and remained his editor for more than 30 years. In 2006, the Poetry Foundation designated Jack as the nations first Children’s Poet Laureate.
Here are three poems from various poetry collections. The first Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face captures the vivid imagination of a child, the second I Don’t Want To captures those days when nothing seems to excite you, and the third one We Moved About a Week Ago is a light-hearted poem about moving away and missing your friends – a great TCK poem.
Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face
Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.
Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you’d be forced to smell your feet.
Your nose would be a source of dread
were it attached atop your head,
it soon would drive you to despair,
forever tickled by your hair.
Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe,
for when you were obliged to sneeze,
your brain would rattle from the breeze.
Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,
remains between your eyes and chin,
not pasted on some other place–
be glad your nose is on your face!
-Jack Prelusky from The New Kid on the Block
I Don’t Want To
I don’t want to play on the sidewalk.
I don’t want to sit on the stoop.
I don’t want to lick any ice cream.
I don’t want to slurp any soup.
I don’t want to listen to music.
I don’t want to look at cartoons.
I don’t want to read any stories.
I don’t want to blow up balloons.
I don’t want to dig in the garden.
I don’t want to roll on the rug.
I don’t want to wrestle the puppy.
I don’t want to give you a hug.
I don’t want to shoot any baskets.
I don’t want to bang on my drum.
I don’t want to line up my soldiers.
I don’t want to whistle or hum.
I don’t want to program my robot.
I don’t want to strum my guitar.
I don’t want to use my computer.
I don’t want to wind up my car.
I don’t want to color with crayons.
I don’t want to model with clay.
I don’t want to stop my not wanting…
I’m having that kind of day.
-Jack Prelusky from It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles
We Moved About a Week Ago
We moved about a week ago,
It’s nice here, I suppose,
The trouble is, I miss my friends,
Like Beth, who bopped my nose,
And Jess, who liked to wrestle
And dump me in the dirt,
And Liz, who found a garter snake
And put it down my shirt.
I miss my friend Fernando,
He sometimes pulled my hair,
I miss my sister Sarah,
She shaved my teddy bear,
I miss the Trumble Triplets
Who dyed my sneakers blue,
And Gus, who broke my glider,
I guess I miss him too.
I really miss Melissa
Who chased me up a tree,
I even miss “Gorilla” Brown
Who used to sit on me,
The more I think about them,
The more it makes me sad,
I hope I make some friends here
As great as those I had.
—Jack Prelutsky from Something Big Has Been Here
This book (A Pizza the Size of the Sun) should be required reading for those out there who claim they don’t like poetry.” – School Library Journal.
Note: I have several copies of Prelusky’s poetry collection at Kids Books Without Borders. If you are a family living overseas, order while supplies last.