, , , , , , , , ,

If you don’t believe in dragons,
It is curiously true
That the dragons you disparage
Choose to not believe in you.

— Jack Prelutsky


Jack Prelutsky joins Arnold Lobel on my list of Top Ten Creators of Children’s Literature. Prelutsky’s poetry is engaging and inventive, easily accessible and comprehensible without being dumbed down. His words are full of wit and wisdom. Oh, and did I mention, it’s poetry!

I have sensed fear–and a fair share of despair– among authors and educators that children’s poetry is going the way of the former planet Pluto. Let’s face it, how often do you see young boys gravitating toward a book of poems? Well, I say pull out the Prelutsky and get set for take off!

There are two books in particular to recommend. The first is The Dragons are Singing Tonight (illustrated by Peter Sis). The Dragons are Singing Tonight is one book, seventeen poems, and endless wonder. We have many favourites in this collection of poems about dragons, but our favourite favourite is I AM BOOM!

Enjoy the first of its three stanzas:

I am Boom the thunder dragon,
Taller than the tallest trees,
I stir whirlwinds when I whisper,
Mighty cyclones when I sneeze,
Fishes shiver in the ocean
When I tread upon the shore,
I make earthquakes and volcanoes
When I roar roar roar!


Remember, a reader contributes much to the experience of a story or poem. For instance, we discovered Boom’s thunderously loud voice that echoes as we read: I am Boom (BOOM!) the thunder dragon… Then, not much later, we discovered Boom’s teeny tiny voice. It has a slight lisp. The irony of an itty bitty voice with the thundering and electric phrases in the poem makes for much laughter. Have fun and enjoy your experience.

The second book, The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom, is a substantial collection of poems selected by Jack Prelutsky and brilliantly illustrated by Meilo So. The contents are divided into five sections: In Trillions We Thrive; Jubilant, We Swim; Dragons in Minature; Hollow-Boned Singers and Wrapped in Coats of Fur.

I love that we can turn to a page a read five poems on the antics of ants. Or turn to another, this time holding our breath in an underwater world of oysters, eels and octopodes. Or to yet another and discover that there are at least three others who know Crow as I know Crow.

I like to walk
And hear the black crows talk.
I like to lie
And watch crows sail the sky.
I like the crow
That wants the wind to blow:
I like the one
That thinks the wind is fun.
I like to see
Crows spilling from a tree,
And try to find
The top crow left behind.
I like to hear
Crows caw that spring is near.
I like the great
Wild clamor of crow hate
Three farms away
When owls are out by day.
I like the slow
Tired home-flying crow;
I like the sight
Of crows for my goodnight.

–Crows by David McCord

Reading through The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom is like catching God in the act of creation and then God saying, Come join the fun!

Check out more from Jack Prelutsky at his website. It’s stellar stuff!

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favourite poem? Do you think children’s poetry is going the way of Pluto? Do you like crows? Why or why not?