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The Carnival of the Animals

Written by Jack PrelutskyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Mary GrandPreAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Mary GrandPre
Created by Camille Saint-SaensAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Camille Saint-Saens

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On Sale: August 24, 2010
Pages: 40 | ISBN: 978-0-375-86458-2
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A great way to introduce children to classical music.

America’s first Children's Poet Laureate has written all-new verses to accompany the composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, and the illustrator of the Harry Potter books has turned these rollicking rhymes into a picture-book fun fest. Included is a CD of the music and of Jack Prelutsky reading the verses. A note to parents and teachers by Judith Bachleitner, head of the music department at the prestigious Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, suggests ways preschoolers can act out the music—tromp like an elephant, hop like a kangaroo, glide like a swan—or, for older children, be creatively inspired by this joyful work.
Jack Prelutsky|Mary GrandPre

About Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky - The Carnival of the Animals
“I have always enjoyed playing with words, but I had no idea that I would be a writer. There was a time when I couldn’t stand poetry! . . . When I was a young man, I discovered poetry again and it changed my life.”—Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky has written more than 40 books of verse and has compiled a number of poetry anthologies. His anthology, The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury, includes 211 wonderful poems that represent the best the century has to offer.


For years, Jack Prelutsky’s inventive poems have inspired legions of children to fall in love with poetry. His outrageously silly poems have tickled even the most stubborn funny bones, while his darker verses have spooked countless late-night readers. His award-winning books include Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, and The Beauty of the Beast.

While attending a Bronx, New York, grade school, Prelutsky took piano and voice lessons and was a regular in school shows. Surprisingly, Prelutsky developed a healthy dislike for poetry due to a teacher who “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.”

In his early twenties, Prelutsky spent 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. Prelutsky listened and he is still busy writing.

Jack Prelutsky lives on Mercer Island in Washington with his wife, Carolynn.


“A splendid collection.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Teachers and librarians will want to use this millennial volume with Prelutsky’s Random House Book of Poetry for Children to introduce our best children’s poets and encourage children to write about their immediate experience.”—Booklist

“A generous collection with a distinctly upbeat tone, this gives a taste of the best poets writing for children over the last several decades. Lobel’s drawings imbue the whole with action and graphic images as inventive as the verse. Successfully geared to meet home, school, and library needs.”—Starred, Booklist

About Mary GrandPre

Mary GrandPre - The Carnival of the Animals

Photo © From the author

For as long as I can remember, I have felt a strong connection to animals. I enjoy learning about them, caring for them, and of course, when ever possible, drawing them. That’s why illustrating The Carnival of the Animals was such a joy. It was great fun figuring out what each animal should look like based on how the poems described them, and listening to the classical music while I drew each one helped a great deal. I believe animals all have unique personalities and abilities, and if we are observant, we can learn a great deal from them.
The first animal I ever truly connected with was my dog Skippy. He was a mix of rat terrier and Jack Russell. He was white with black spots. I was eight years old when we found him at the animal shelter in Bloomington Minnesota, the town I grew up in. The day we got him, we surprised my mom when we went to the grocery store where she was working as a cashier. We went through her checkout line to buy Skippy’s first bag of dog food. Needless to say my mom was not very happy with us that day, and I don’t recommend ever surprising a parent that way with a new pet . . . but the good news is, she ended up loving Skippy as much as the rest of us did.
Skippy and I had a very special relationship. At times it felt like we were actually talking to each other, especially when he would jump up into my lap, tilt his head and point just one ear up. It was as if he was just waiting for me to suggest something we could play together. One of our favorite things to do was to play hide-and-seek. There was an old oak tree that was perfect for climbing in the back yard. Well, no matter how often Skippy and I played hide-and-seek, I would always use the tree as one of my hiding places. I remember climbing up as high as I could go, while Skippy was wandering around in the front yard. After positioning myself comfortably in the highest branches, I would call, “SKIPPY. . . COME AND FIND ME!” Then I would hear the jingle of his dog tags, and wait and watch for him to come around to the back yard. I had a good view, peeking through the green clumps of leaves. As he got closer, I would call again and he would come running to the tree, never looking up, just circling the base, looking confused. Then he would run and sniff and snoop under bushes, behind the shed, or on the swing set. Finally, after a few more calls and more searching, I would quietly sneak down to the lowest branch and then jump to the ground, yelling, “HEEEERRRRE I AMMMM!” He would come running, so excited to see me, seeming so surprised that I had been hiding in the big oak. The funny thing is, no matter how many times I hid in that old oak tree, he never looked up to see me there. He never remembered that I always hid in the tree . . . or did he?
Today I wonder if Skippy always knew. Perhaps he was just letting me stay there while he pretended to hunt for me in other places? Skippy knew how to be a good sport and how to play with vigor. He taught me how to find enjoyment in the little things.
I hope you enjoy meeting the characters in The Carnival of the Animals. Perhaps you too will make a special connection.


WINNER New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
FINALIST Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
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