Although Prelutsky's (My Dog May Be a Genius, reviewed above) popularity and his role as the first children's poet laureate will excite hopes for this primer, his advice on writing poetry is limited and disorganized, albeit presented in his usual gleeful voice. He arranges his book in sections that each include an anecdote ("My Father's Underwear," "An Awful, Awful Meal") followed by the poem or poems inspired by the experience and a lengthy "Writing Tip." However, he repeats much the same advice regardless of the ostensible topic. Prelutsky tells would-be poets to keep a notebook and/or to make lists in at least 10 sections; he counsels them to "exaggerate" in five. Sometimes the writing tip offers directions for a specific poem ("Write about your mother's rules and... why they drive you crazy"). A few of Prelutsky's assertions may raise some eyebrows ("A poem doesn't always have to be about something. You're allowed to write a poem about pretty much nothing at all," he opines, going on to say that sound can be as important as meaning), and for the most part his tips, appropriately, apply only to humorous poems. While this is not a book for teachers seeking a comprehensive guide, readers looking for the story behind a particular Prelutsky verse will enjoy the book, as will kids who want to try on Prelutsky's style. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)[Page 47]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 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[Page 167]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.