From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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Along with easy-to-follow tips for creating verse, haiku, and concrete poetry, the reigning Children’s Poet Laureate offers insights into his own thought processes (“Different foods behave in different ways when you squeeze them.”), glimpses of his childhood, and personal anecdotes. Appropriately, his brief closing glossary of poet’s tools includes entries for poetic license, pun, and irony. To get the creative juices flowing in budding versifiers, Prelutsky tucks in more than a dozen examples from his own work, plus 10 two-and-part-of-a-third-line “poemstarts.” Although Ralph J. Fletcher’s Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out (2002) is a more wide-ranging guide to poetic techniques and forms, Prelutsky’s amiable primer will be more appealing to less-motivated audiences; it will not only entice them into making poetry but also leave them better able to appreciate rhyme and wordplay in general. Grades 4-6. --John Peters