Poet Feature: Jack Prelutsky

As part of our celebration of National Poetry Month, we're featuring the work of a wide variety of poetsToday's featured poet is Jack Prelutsky!

Jack Prelutsky was born in 1940 in the Bronx.  He had no youthful aspirations of being a poet, much less a prolific and much-loved children's poet.  In fact, he was less than fond of school in general, and, thanks to an unenthusiastic teacher, he had a particular dislike of poetry.  Prelutsky says his 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." 

He finally gained a chance to shine when his teachers noticed he was musically inclined and encouraged him to attend a high school with advanced programming for young artists.  Even at an early age, Prelutsky had a fine voice and studied classical music, planning to become an operatic tenor and performing folk music in his free time.  After dropping out of Hunter College, however, he worked a string of odd jobs, expressing his creativity by drawing fantastical animals in his free time.  He showed a collection of these drawings, accompanied by short poems he'd jotted down at the last minute, to Susan Hirschman, an editor at Macmillan.  To his surprise, she was interested not in his artwork but in his poetry.  With her encouragement, Prelutsky's first book, A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems, was released in 1967. 

Since then, Prelutsky has written over 70 volumes of poetry, largely for young readers.  He's worked with illustrators such as Marc Brown, Arnold Lobel, Mary GrandPré, and numerous others.  In 2006, he was appointed the first Children's Poet Laureate by the National Poetry Foundation, and his works have been selected as Library of Congress Book of the Year and received Parents' Choice Awards and various Notable Book awards, among many other accolades.  He was even featured on the children's animated television show Arthur.

Today, Prelutsky lives in Seattle with his wife, where he continues to write and perform his work.

Author photo via jackprelutsky.com

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Random House Book of ...) Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
$22.99
ISBN: 9780394850108
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - September 12th, 1983

My Parents Think I'm Sleeping (I Can Read Level 3) Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Yossi Abolafia (Illustrator)
$4.99
ISBN: 9780060537227
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Published: HarperCollins - January 8th, 2008

It's Snowing! It's Snowing!: Winter Poems (I Can Read Level 3) Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Yossi Abolafia (Illustrator)
$3.99
ISBN: 9780060537173
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Published: HarperCollins - November 7th, 2006

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780679890089
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Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - April 20th, 1998

The New Kid on the Block Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, James Stevenson (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9780062239501
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 26th, 2013

A Pizza the Size of the Sun Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, James Stevenson (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9780062239518
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 26th, 2013

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
$17.89
ISBN: 9780688840532
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Published: Greenwillow Books - August 1976

What a Day It Was at School! Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Doug Cushman (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9780060823375
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Published: Greenwillow Books - June 30th, 2009

The Silver Moon: Lullabies and Cradle Songs Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Jui Ishida (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062014672
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Published: Greenwillow Books - September 24th, 2013

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky (Selected by), Meilo So (Illustrator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780679893141
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Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - September 28th, 1999

Scranimals Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Peter Sis (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780060753689
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 28th, 2006

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: and Other Poems Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Carin Berger (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062014641
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 26th, 2013

The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight: More Poems to Trouble Your Sleep Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780688117054
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Published: Greenwillow Books - August 21st, 1992

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem Cover Image
$6.99
ISBN: 9780061434488
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 26th, 2008

The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Petra Mathers (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780060737764
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Published: Greenwillow Books - March 15th, 2005

Something Big Has Been Here Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, James Stevenson (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9780061857751
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Published: Greenwillow Books - February 23rd, 2010