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Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem Paperback – February 26, 2008
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
This new Prelutsky book is absolutely fabulous! Every year I engage my middle school students in creating an extensive "Poetry Package" as one of their major projects for the year, so this book has been a GREAT resource! THANK YOU, Jack Prelutsky! THANK YOU, Amazon.com!
Second, I detest books which try to persuade readers that it is the basic nature of "all" of us to act badly (or, at least, to desire to act badly) and I detest books which perpetrate negative stereotypes about humanity. Mr. Prelutsky does both of these things repeatedly in just the first few pages -- and no child needs this. E.g., "Sometimes I think that mothers exist mostly to drive their kids crazy. Of course kids absolutely exist to drive their mothers crazy. It's been going on like that for thousands of years, and there's no end in sight. . . . One of the things that my mother did to drive me crazy was make up rules. She had so many rules, and most of them started with the same word: Don't." His attitude towards others, especially his parents, reeks of disrespect (as indicated by my next objection).
Third, Prelutsky implicitly encourages his reader to pull mean pranks on others because that is the way to create interesting situations worthy of a poem: "Once I put a bug in [my father's] coffee cup, and another time I put breadcrumbs in his bed. I did lots of other stuff too. I made a list of all the things like that I could remember, then picked some of them to put in a poem called "I Wonder Why Dad Is So Thoroughly Mad."
Fourth, Mr. Prelutsky tells the reader he is sharing stories from his life, but of course most of what he relates is pure fiction -- and I don't think it is appropriate to blur the lines between reality and fiction for young children. This is not a book of whacky poetry like what he is known for: this is (supposedly) a book of non-fiction about the writing process: How to Write a Poem. For example, he gives a detailed account of what he did with his baby food when he was eating in a high chair, yet scientific research indicates that humans are unable to recall events which occur prior to age three (indeed, most people's memories do not begin until age five). If Prelutsky wants to tell a humorous fiction story about an infant playing with food, that's fine -- but he shouldn't tell impressionable readers he is writing his personal biography because that gives the story a credibility and cache it does not deserve.
Finally, I read an Amazon review for Prelutsky's book New Kid on the Block which objects to Prelutsky's repeated references in his poems to the concepts of "ugly," "mean," and "hate." After reading how repeatedly disrespectful Prelutsky is to his own family in just the first 12 pages of this book (Pizza, Pigs and Poetry) it does not surprise me that his poetry is full of "ugly, mean and hate."
I am glad my sons were not exposed to this man's dumbed-down verse and unChristian worldview when they were younger and more impressionable, and I'm certainly not going to burden them with it now! There are many other better sources on "how to write a poem".
This man is America's first Children's Poet Laureate? Omg, does that just FUEL the international image of America as a "dumbed-down" nation intellectually, or what? What a travesty and embarrassment.
I plan to buy his new book this month.
My daughter is 7, I think that is the perfect age for fantasy and poetry!