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  • Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
  • Selected by Jack Prelutsky
    Illustrated by Meilo So
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  • Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
  • Selected by Jack Prelutsky
    Illustrated by Meilo So
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Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme

Selected by Jack PrelutskyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Meilo SoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Meilo So

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poetry (31) writing (10) rhyming (4)
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“Prelutsky has invented a method he calls ‘poemstarts’ to help children get started in writing poetry. He provides several introductory lines of a simple poem and then offers some open-ended suggestions for its completion. In this thematically organized collection, Prelutsky offers ten poemstarts on different popular themes, complemented by three short poems on the same subject by different authors. . . . Though the volume’s intent is as a springboard to writing poetry, the thoughtful selections and So’s winning watercolors make this a successful poetry collection even without the writing prompts.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
Jack Prelutsky|Meilo So

About Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky - Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
“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 Meilo So

Meilo So - Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
Meilo So has illustrated several award-winning books, including Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, by Judy Sierra; It’s Simple, Said Simon, by Mary Ann Hoberman; The Ugly Duckling, retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland; and Countdown to Spring!, by Janet Schulman. Meilo So was born in Hong Kong and lives in England with her
husband and daughter.


I have always made narrative into pictures . . .

I have been drawing from about the time I was five years old. My grandfather had a mannequin shop; I used to watch him painting eyes and lips on the models. I have always made narrative into pictures. My first children’s book was published in Hong Kong in 1987. I wrote the story; it was about a naughty angel with three black spots on her
face. It was semi-autobiographical.

I try to keep my life simple and I choose a simple, light-weight medium . . .

I enjoy using acrylics and recently gouache (as in Countdown to Spring!). I prefer a medium that you can make corrections with. My favorite is simple black-and-white drawings. I haven’t lived all over the world, but I have traveled a little bit, and it has influenced me to carry fewer and fewer tools with me when it comes to work, and I think a lot more in my head.

I like to write and illustrate books, whether they are for adults or children . . .

I like to write and illustrate books, whether they are for adults or children. I like the story to be kind and optimistic. I enjoy painting domestic settings.

Since the birth of my daughter I am now more attracted to bold and simple illustrations . . .

My work is also influenced by a Chinese artist named Feng Tse Kai, who worked in the 1930s to 1960s. His simple brush drawings about children, childhood, wars, ordinary people—they are very touching images, but not sentimental. I also admire Ben Shann’s work a great deal.

The whole working process flowed nicely . . .
I enjoyed illustrating The Beauty of the Beast. It is one of those projects that you know is going to look good. The whole working process flowed nicely.


Poems from the Animal Kingdom

—An ALA Notable Book

“Meilo So does enchantingly unreal paintings: whimsical watercolors made with a wet-on-wet technique that reserves the spontaneity of her hand gestures. In very few brush strokes, she captures the essence of organisms from stallions to sea horses. Yet the images themselves are abstract, almost calligraphic pictograms.”—The New York Times Book Review
Praise | Awards


“Especially useful in classrooms.”—Booklist


SUBMITTED 2005 Parents' Choice Gold Award
WINNER 2005 Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Book of the Year
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Celebrate Poetry Month with Random House Children’s Books

Dear Educator:
Recently, I met a second-grade teacher who floored me by telling me that he recites one of my poems to his students every day, and that he’s been doing it for 20 years. As flattering and impressive as that is, I certainly don’t expect you to emulate him. However, I think that the notion of sharing a poem daily with your own students is utterly wonderful. There’s something about poetry that sinks into us and livens our minds and our senses. It can show us new ways of seeing the world, turn the mundane into the spectacular, and turn the ridiculous into the serious . . . and vice versa. With just a few well-chosen words, a poet can weave a tapestry of wonder, and create surprise and delight out of things as diverse as hiccups, robots, bugs, and baseball.

I hope that you enjoy sharing my poems, as well as the poems of my colleagues, with your students. Recite these poems to them with enthusiasm . . . you’ll discover that your students will be enthusiastic too.

-Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky is our nation’s first-ever Children’s Poet Laureate!



•Make your classroom poetry-friendly. Hang poster boards with poems written on them from the ceiling, on the bulletin board, and off the side of your desk.
•Here’s a great one to start with:

A poem is a little path
That leads you through the trees.
It takes you to the cliffs and shores
To anywhere you please.
Follow it and trust your way
With mind and heart as one,
And when the journey’s over,
You’ll find you’ve just begun.
–Charles Ghigna from The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
Illustrations © 1997, 1999 Meilo So.
© 1992 by Charles Ghigna

•Get ready to immerse your students in poetry! Work with the school librarian to gather as many poetry books as you can to share with your budding poets.

•Sign up for the free Teachers @ Random e-mail newsletter and you will receive a poem a day for the month of April that you can share with students. Go to www.randomhouse.com/teachers to sign up.


Week 1: Meet Jack Prelutsky

DAY 1:
Surround students with the genius of Jack Prelutsky. Make all of his books available for the class to browse. Have the class check out the poet’s interactive Web site at www.jackprelutsky.com and get to know him as a friend.

DAY 2: In his newest book, Good Sports, Jack celebrates the joy of participating in sports boys and girls play. Have students read a few of the poems aloud. Discuss why the book’s title is so appropriate. Do you have to be a good athlete to be a good sport?

DAY 3:
Share with students the fabulous shape poems on pages 42—43 of The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury. Discuss how the physical layout of the poems works with the words. Challenge students to write and design their own shape poems. Create a bulletin board to display the creations.

DAY 4:
Read aloud Jack’s introduction to the “Nonsense!” section on page 168 of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. Then read it along with the class at a slower pace. Talk about the fun of the rhymes and the lively language. Why is it so much fun to be silly? Have students try their hand at a poem that might fit into the “Nonsense!” category.

DAY 5:
Have students write a poem congratulating Jack on being named our nation’s first-ever Children’s Poet Laureate.

My friend and I play Frisbee
In the summer in the park.
I flip the frisbee to her,
It describes a graceful arc.
She runs and tries to catch it,
And I watch her miss and fall–
We both like playing Frisbee,
Though we aren’t good at all.
–From Good Sports by Jack Prelutsky
© 2007 by Jack Prelutsky

Week 2: Poemstarts–
Where Will Your Poem End Up Going?

DAY 1:
Introduce Jack Prelutsky’s Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme to the class. Copy one of the poemstarts on the board and see how many directions it can go in.

DAY 2: Hand out the poetry journals inside this kit. There are original poemstarts by Jack Prelutsky that will get students’ creative energy flowing.

DAY 3: Have students write their own poemstarts, and then trade papers with a partner and finish each other’s poems.

DAY 4:
Have students bring home a poemstart and complete the poem with a family member.

DAY 5:
Host a read-aloud hour where students can read their best poem from the classroom or from home that started with a poemstart.

Week 3: Budding Anthologists

DAY 1:
Jack Prelutsky has selected poems for several acclaimed poetry anthologies. Lead a class discussion about the format of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. The anthology is divided into 16 sections and it includes a table of contents, as well as an index by author, title, first line, and subject. Why is order so important in an anthology?

DAY 2:
In his introductory letter in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Jack talks about his target audience of elementary school students and how he chose poems based on what he knew about them. Discuss the concept of a target audience. What type of poems would students select for an anthology for their parents, their younger siblings, their teachers, etc.?

DAY 3: Meilo So is the illustrator of three anthologies selected by Jack: Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme; The Beauty of the Beast; and The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury. Have students take a look at her gorgeous art in the three books. How do the illustrations help the poems come to life?

DAYS 4—5: Now that students understand the concept of an anthology, put together a classroom poetry anthology. As a class decide on the target audience and a catchy title. Next have each student choose a poem that inspires him/her– the poems can be by published poets or by fellow students. Read the selected poems beforehand and decide on a list of categories for the anthology. Write the categories on the board, and as you read each poem aloud to the class ask for volunteers to come up and write the poem name in the category it best fits into.

Type up the anthology and ask for a few volunteers to illustrate the anthology. Depending on the age of your students, you may want to assign the table of contents and index to volunteers. Make copies for each student to bring home and share with their families.

Week 4: Just for Fun!

DAY 1:
Have students send a poem-a-gram to a friend in another class.

DAY 2:
Make a class recording of students reading their favorite poems or their original poems.

DAY 3:
Host a poetry writing contest where the winner reads his or her poem over the loudspeaker for the whole school to hear.

DAY 4:
Invite family members in for tea or punch and have the students read a poem for their guests of honor.

DAY 5:
Set aside free time for the class to enjoy poetry. Students can write a poem, read a poem, share a poem with a friend, or illustrate a poem.


Build your classroom’s poetry collection!


Selected by Jack Prelutsky

The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
Illustrated by Meilo So
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-679-89314-1 (0-679-89314-8)

The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom
Illustrated by Meilo So
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-679-87058-6 (0-679-87058-X)
GLB: 978-0-679-97058-3 (0-679-97058-4)

For Laughing Out Loud: Poems to Tickle Your Funnybone
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-394-82144-3 (0-394-82144-0)

Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme
Illustrated by Meilo So
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-82286-5 (0-375-82286-0)
GLB: 978-0-375-92286-2 (0-375-92286-5)

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young
Illustrated by Marc Brown
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-394-97218-3 (0-394-97218-5)

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
Illustrated by Arnold Lobel
Random House
HC: 978-0-394-85010-8 (0-394-85010-6)
GLB: 978-0-394-95010-5 (0-394-95010-0)

Written by Jack Prelutsky

Good Sports
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-83700-5 (0-375-83700-0)
GLB: 978-0-375-93700-2 (0-375-93700-5)


For Younger Readers

Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark
Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Brian Biggs
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-83747-0 (0-375-83747-7)
GLB: 978-0-375-93747-7 (0-375-93747-1)

Available August 2008
The Camel’s Lament
Illustrated by Charles Santore
Random House
HC: 978-0-375-81426-6 (0-375-81426-4)
Gary Paulsen
PB: 978-0-440-41130-7 (0-440-41130-0)

Good Dog
Maya Gottfried
Illustrated by Robert Rahway Zakanitch
PB: 978-0-553-11383-9 (0-553-11383-6)
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-83409-5 (0-375-83049-9)
GLB: 978-0-375-93049-2 (0-375-93049-3)

Hailstones and Halibut Bones
Mary O’Neill,
Illustrated by John Wallner
PB: 978-0-385-41078-6 (0-385-41078-6)
HC: 978-0-385-24484-8 (0-385-24484-3)

Ready . . . Set . . . Read!
Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson
HC: 978-0-385-41416-6 (0-385-41416-1)

Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope-Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun
Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-82516-3 (0-375-82516-9)
GLB: 978-0-375-92516-0 (0-375-92516-3)

For Middle-Grade Readers

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
Langston Hughes
Alfred A. Knopf
PB: 978-0-679-88347-0 (0-679-88347-9)
HC: 978-0-679-84421-1 (0-679-84421-X)
GLB: 978-0-679-94421-8 (0-679-94421-4)

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
Roald Dahl
Alfred. A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-81556-0 (0-375-81556-2)

Summerhouse Time
Eileen Spinelli
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-84061-6 (0-375-84061-3)
GLB: 978-0-375-94061-3 (0-375-94061-8)

For Young Adult Readers

Girl Coming In for a Landing
April Halprin Wayland
Illustrated by Elaine Clayton
PB: 978-0-440-41903-7 (0-440-41903-4)

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
Stephanie Hemphill
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-83799-9 (0-375-83799-X)
GLB: 978-0-375-93799-6 (0-375-93799-4)

For All Readers

Favorite Poems: Old and New
Helen Ferris
HC: 978-0-385-07696-8 (0-385-07696-7)

Written by Marilyn Singer, Illustrated by Meilo So

Central Heating: Poems About Fire and Warmth
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-82912-3 (0-375-82912-1)
GLB: 978-0-375-92912-0 (0-375-92912-6)

Footprints on the Roof: Poems About the Earth
Alfred A. Knopf
HC: 978-0-375-81094-7 (0-375-81094-3)
GLB: 978-0-375-91094-4 (0-375-91094-8)

How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water
Alfred A. Knopf
GLB: 978-0-375-92376-0 (0-375-92376-4)

A beautiful picture book about Emily Dickinson:

Michael Bedard
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
PB: 978-0-440-41740-8 (0-440-41740-6)
HC: 9780-385-30697-3 (0-385-30697-0)
GLB: 978-0-385-90539-8 (0-385-90539-4)

Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide

  • Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme by selected by Jack Prelutsky; Illustrated by Meilo So
  • January 13, 2009
  • Poetry; Juvenile Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Dragonfly Books
  • $7.99
  • 9780385737272

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