"I objurgate the centipede,/ A bug we do not really need," writes Ogden Nash. Carl Sandburg hums and strums, while pages later, William Jay Smith compares a toaster to a silver-scaled dragon. And of course A.A. Milne must add his two cents' worth, "tiddely pom, tiddely pom." What a labor of love! Children's poet and anthologist Jack Prelutsky has collected 211 of his favorite poems by 137 poets, representing the best of verse from each decade of the 20th century. "Until this century, most children's poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers," Prelutsky writes in his introduction. "Contemporary children's poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today's real child
What's in this anthology for today's child? Food fights, outer space, animals, noses, monsters, sports, and sibling rivalry. Each of award-winning illustrator Meilo So's spectacular watercolor-splashed spreads reflects a theme: one buggy watercolor romp is surrounded by Deborah Chandra's "Cricket," Walter R. Brooks's "Ants, Although Admirable, Are Awfully Aggravating," and Robert Frost's "Blue-Butterfly Day." Five nocturnal poems nestle into a moonlit cityscape. Four music-related poems, from Bruce Lansky's "My Violin" to X.J. Kennedy's "The Girl Who Makes the Cymbals Bang," burst from So's cacophonous paintings. This excellent collection, a companion to The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury, belongs on every poetry lover's bookshelf. Prelutsky, creator of The New Kid on the Block, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, and more than 30 other poetry books, has perfect pitch. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustrations copyright 1999 by Meilo So. Permission of Alfred A. Knopf.) (All ages) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers 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 poemsAfrom 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.