April 1, 2010


Poems by Jack Prelutsky
Pictures by Peter Sis
40 pages, Greenwillow Books

Review by Melissa Conway

My son and I snuggle up after his bath and read every single night, and have since he was an infant. Now that he’s in elementary school, he visits the school library once a week and is allowed to check out two books. Once we’d read every book about spiders and insects the school library carried (twice!) I told him he needed to branch out. He brought home a book called ‘Scranimals.’

Now, I have a grown daughter who was also an early, avid reader. The author of Scranimals has been writing children’s books for a long time and I’d never heard of him. In fact, he’s been writing children’s books for such a long time, I should have encountered his work when I was a kid. Well, if you’ve read my other reviews, you know I have a poor memory. If I ever did, I don’t remember reading any of his stories when I was young or when my daughter was young.

I wish we had.

My son and I were so charmed by Prelutsky, I hit Amazon the very next day to look for more of his work. I ordered Scranimals and the book I’m reviewing here, ‘The Dragons are Singing Tonight.’

Dragons isn’t a long book. It’s got seventeen poems, some of them not more than one stanza, and each poem has a two-page spread with an illustration by artist Peter Sis (there’s an accent over the ‘i’ in Sis’ name, but it won’t post here). According to the publisher page, the art was ‘reproduced from oil and gouache paintings on a gesso background.’ Each rustically whimsical painting reflects the theme from its accompanying poem, and quite amusingly so.

The poems simply shine. So clever and fun. Quite a few of the words are out of my son’s vocabulary range, but that’s fine by me. He’s at that point in his reading career where he’s still attracted to picture books, but he’s outgrown the simpler words. I’m happy whenever he pauses during his recitation and asks me to define something for him. Each time we read it, he needs less and less clarification, so I know it’s sticking.

I’m sold on Prelutsky (and Sis has also written and illustrated his own books that I plan to check out soon). Prelutsky’s charming work belongs in every kid’s home library.

No comments:

Post a Comment