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Jack Prelutsky. Jack Prelutsky. By: Ayla Managan and Vanessa Oetken. Background Information. Born September 8,1940 Brooklyn NY. Was an artsy student who studied voice at the High School of Music and Art in N. Y.

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Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky

By: AylaManagan and Vanessa Oetken


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Background Information

  • Born September 8,1940 Brooklyn NY

  • Was an artsy student who studied voice at the High School of Music and Art in N. Y.

  • He attended Hunter College in N.Y. but didn’t finish because he wanted (to become a beatnik)

  • Like many students he did not like poetry: a teacher “ left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. I was told it was good for me, but I wasn’t convinced.” (Jack Prelutsky-Scholastic)


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What inspired him

“…Prelutskyspent six months drawing imaginary animals in ink and watercolor. One evening, he wrote two dozen short poetry verses to accompany each drawing. A friend encouraged him to show them to an editor, who loved his poems (although not his artwork!) and urged him to keep writing. Prelutskylistened and he is still busy writing.” (his website)

His first book was A Gopher in the Garden, and Other Animal Poems-published in 1967-age 27


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School Library Journal: “….Expanding the cast of creatures beyond dragons to include trolls, witches, ogres, wizards, and giants, this 17-poem collection overflows with energy, tongue-in-cheek wit, rich vocabulary, and rollicking rhyme and meter. The oil and gouache paintings on gesso backgrounds are equally playful, as each gold-bordered, double-page spread adds more layers of meaning to the words. …”

Kirkus Reviews: “Prelutsky's verse is as rhythmic as ever and full of child-pleasing grotty humor, with crotchety witches and grubby goblins fully present. The first poem, "I Told the Wizard to His Face," sets the tone as a bratty boy regales a wizard with variations of the word fraud: "Since then I've been but two feet tall/and have a hamster's head." Sís captures the spirit of the book perfectly in his spreads framed with fabulous borders. The settings range from modern urban to mythical or medieval. Favorite pieces will be "Mother Ogre's Lullaby" and the title poem, but every poem will be relished, come Halloween or any time of the year.”

Age 4-7


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School Library Journal: “-Prelutsky introduces the curious inhabitants of Scranimal Island through his skillful and captivating poems. The creatures, such as the Mangorilla and Orangutangerine, are each a cross between an animal and a fruit, vegetable, or flower, and behave accordingly. For instance, "On a bump beside a road/Sits a lowly

POTATOAD,/Obviously unaware/Of its own existence there./On its coarse and warty hide,/It has eyes on every side,/Eyes that fail, apparently,/To take note of what they see." Sis's illustrations are a wonderful combination of the eerie and humorous (readers might be reminded of his fantastical island in Komodo! [Greenwillow, 1993]), and give children a visual clue as to the creature's elements, in case they haven't figured it out yet……”

Grade 2-5


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School Library Journal: “…Perfect for reading aloud or alone, it will be reached for again and again by teachers, parents, kids, librarians, and anyone else who likes poems that make them chuckle. As a matter of fact, this book should be required reading for those out there who claim they don't like poetry. If you can only afford one poetry collection this year, make it this one.” (Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library)

Ages: 5-11


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Interesting Facts:

Is there anything you’ve always wished you could achieve and haven’t accomplished yet?

“Singing the “Star Spangled Banner” on opening day of the World Series at Safeco Field!”

Three wishes are an integral part of many children’s stories. If you had three wishes, what would they be?

“I’d love to sing like Pavarotti, paint like Picasso and dance like Fred Astaire. Unfortunately, I dance like Pavarotti, sing like Picasso and paint like Fred Astaire.”

Do you now have or have you ever had any other kind of “job”?

“Since becoming an author, my job has been writing and traveling around the country talking about poetry. Before that, I was a cab driver, furniture mover, folk singer, potter, photographer, singer, actor, and a few dozen other things.”

What advice do you have for young writers?

“READ! READ! READ! and WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Keep a journal and write down things you see, hear and think about. Practice writing stories and poems. Keep your eyes and ears open and PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!”

All from his website



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Currently or Recently

  • Jack lives with his wife Carolyn in Seattle Washington (they are between dogs…)

  • He travels and spends a lot of his time presenting poems to children in schools and libraries in the United States-you can usually see him carrying around a notebook and two pencils

  • In 2006 He was given the honor of being the first Children’s Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children’s Poetry by the Poetry Foundation

And, He continues to write…