There are some authors that kids are always just plain glad to see. And Jack Prelutsky is definitely one of those authors. The newest (or at least I think it's newest) book from this very prolific poet, is classic Prelutsky. There is a lot of silliness…
"THANKSGIVING MATH"There is a lot of word play…
I swallowed a third of the turkey,
A tenth of the carrots and peas,
A quarter of half the potatoes
A fifth of a ninth of the cheese,
A sixth of an eighth of the pudding
A seventh of all of the cake,
And so I am now doubled over,
With triple a whole bellyache.
"MY SNAKE CAN DO ARITHMETIC"Prelutsky employs a variety of formats- everything from free verse to haiku to limericks, to concrete poetry. And, as always, he's a master at tools like repetition and alliteration. I taught both of those in intermediate grades this week, and am wishing now that I had started each day with humorous poem, then gone on to more serious examples.
My snake can do arithmetic
My snake is far from dumb
My snake can take two numbers,
And come up with a sum.
She can't subtract, which makes her sad,
And two things make her sadder…
She can't divide or multiply--
My snake is just an adder.
I was also struck, in reading I'VE LOST MY HIPPOPOTAMUS, by Prelutsky's use of rich and interesting vocabulary-- talk about text complexity! Here's a sample from a random two-page spread--fortunate, discern, gem, pity, commonplace, hard-pressed, strain, manufactured, insufferable, detect, odor, sniff. And in case you think I'm making it up, here's another randomly selected two page spread--crochety, miffed, appearance, cosmetics, strategically, perfumed, festooned, bangles, inexpressible. I'm not big on "vocabulary" lessons where teachers find the interesting/difficult words and have kids look them up in dictionaries, but I do think this book would lend itself to lots of interesting discussions about how carefully poets/authors choose words.
Prelutsky is a hall-of-famer when it comes to poetry for kids. And this is another classic!