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  • The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
  • Selected by Jack Prelutsky
    Illustrated by Meilo So
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780679893141
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The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury

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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"Until this century, most children's poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers. Contemporary children's poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today's real child in mind."
- from the Introduction by Jack Prelutsky

Here in one gloriously illustrated volume are 211 wonderful poems that represent the best this century has to offer. From sibling rivalry, school, monsters, food, and just plain silliness, to such ageless themes as the seasons, Who am I?, and the many moods of childhood, this is a collection that begs to be read aloud and shared with the whole family. The poems, from every decade of this century, showcase 137 famous poets.

Selected by Jack Prelutsky, America's leading children's poet, and illustrated by award-winning watercolorist Meilo So, this useful and beautiful gift is a splendid way to end the century -- or start a new one. Truly a book that families will cherish long after the millennium excitement is over, The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury is a joyous companion volume to the best-selling The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury.

This book has been selected as a Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar (Grades K-1, 2-3, Poetry) in Appendix B.


"We Are Plooters"

We are Plooters,
We don't care,
We make messes
We strip forests
Bare of trees,
We dump garbage
In the seas.

We are Plooters,
We enjoy
Finding beauty
To destroy,
We intrude
Where creatures thrive,
Soon there's little
Left alive.

Nothing's safe
When we're around,
We spew poisons
In the air,
We are Plooters,
We don't care.

-Jack Prelutsky
Copyright © 1993 by Jack Prelutsky. Used by permission of the author, who controls all rights.

"Where Are You Now?"

When the night begins to fall
And the sky begins to glow
You look up and see the tall
City of light begin to grow --
In rows and little golden squares
The lights come out. First here, then there
Behind the windowpanes as though
A million billion bees had built
Their golden hives and honeycombs
Above you in the air.

-Mary Britton Miller
From All Aboard by Mary Britton Miller. Copyright © 1958 by Pantheon Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Jack Prelutsky|Meilo So

About Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky - The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
“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 - The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
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
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide





The 2Oth Century Children's Poetry Treasury, selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, is a compendium of over 200 of the best poems of this century. This activity sampler is designed to introduce teachers to the Treasury and includes a sampling of classroom activities with curriculum links.

Visit us online at wwwrandomhouse.com/teachers for a complete guide to the Poetry Treasury and its companion book, The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury, selected by Janet Schulman. Both are published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury contain 211 poems from these 137 poets, arranged by theme.
Arnold Adoff
Conrad Aiken
Dorothy Aldis
Frank Asch
Brod Bagert
Harry Behn
Rowena Bastin Bennett
George Reiter Brill
Gwendolyn Brooks
Walter R. Brooks
Sylvia Cassedy
Nancy Chambers
Deborah Chandra
John Ciardi
Pauline Clarke
Lucille Clifton
Elizabeth Coatsworth
Mary Ann Coleman
E.E. Cummings
Roald Dahl
Walter cle ]a Mare
Mary Grace Dembeck
Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Mary Morris Duane
Ivy 0. Eastwick
Richard Edwards
Barbara Juster Esbensen
Norma Farber
Eleanor Farjeon
M0,x Fatchen
Rachel Field
Aileen Fisher
Michael Flanders
Ralph Fletcher
Douglas Florian
Victoria Forrester
Siv Cedering Fox
Kathleen Fraser
Frances Frost
Robert Frost
Chief Dan George
Kristine O'Connell George
Charles Ghigna
Nikki Giovanni
Mary McB. Green
Nikki Grimes
Grace Taber Hallock
David L. Harrison
Georgia Heard
Florence Parry Heide
Margaret Hillert
Russell Hoban
Mary Ann Hoberman
Felice Holman
Dakari Hru
Patricia Hubbell
Langston Hughes
Ted Hughes
Lucia M. Hymes and James L. Hymes, Jr.
Dahlov Ipcar
Leland B. Jacobs
Randall Jarrell
Elizabeth Jennings
Emilie Fendall Johnson
Tony Johnston
Bobbi Katz
Gail Kredenser
Maxine Kumin
Karla Kuskin
Bruce Lansky
Dennis Lee
Constance Levy
J. Patrick Lewis
Sandra Olson Liatsos
Dee Lillegard
Vachel Lindsay
Jean Little
Myra Cohn Livingston
Arnold Lobel
David McCord
Eve Merriam
Richard Michelson
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Mary Britton Miller
A. A. Milne
Lilian Moore
Pat Mora
Lillian Morrison
Jeff Moss
Ogden Nash
Judith Nicholls
Grace Nichols
Leslie Norris
Mary O'Neill
J. Paget- Fredericks
Donna Lugg Pape
Josephine Preston Peabody
Lydia Pender
Jack Prelutsky
James Reeves
Laura E. Richards
Marci Ridlon
E. V. Rieu
Denise Rodgers
Theodore Roethke
Betty Sage
Carl Sandburg
Alice Schertle
Dr. Seuss
Monica Shannon
Shel Silverstein
Marilyn Singer
William Jay Smith
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Gary Soto
Eileen Spinelli
eye Starbird
'Anna Bird Stewart
Joyce Carol Thomas
Judith Thurman
Ruth Tiller
James S. Tippett
Ann Turner
George Ulrich
John Updike
Judith Viorst
Carole Boston Weatherford
Colin West
Richard Wilbur
William Wise
Janet S. Wong
Valerie Worth
Jane Yolen
Charlotte Zolotow


A Word from Jack Prelutsky

This treasury has been culled almost entirely from my private collection of children's poetry books. I read thousands of poems to select slightly over two hundred that I felt represented the scope and variety of children's verse produced in the twentieth century, and had no trouble including at least one poem from every decade. Children's literature in general has blossomed in our time, and poetry in particular has entered a "golden age."

Until this century, most children's poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers. Contemporary children's poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today's real child in ruind. They write about sports, sibling rivalry, outer space, monsters, food fights, school, and just plain silliness. Of course today's poets still address the ageless themes of children's poetry-imagination, nature and the seasons, who am I?, wordplay, and the many moods of human beings. My final selections represent all of these and many more.

I truly believe that most of the best poetry for children has been written during my own creative lifetime. With this in mind, the collection is weighted with the poetry of my contemporaries.

Children's poets today are producing some wonderful work, and it's apparent to me that the torch is being passed to very capable hands. The renaissance continues into the twenty-first century, and I am delighted.
-Jack Prelutsky (excerpted from the introduction to The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury)


In the Classroom

It's never too early to expose students to poetry. Not only is poetry a valuable tool for teaching students how to read, but also poems make students feel, transport them to another place, and expose them to rich language. As one first grader said, "A story just talks, but a poem sings." The 2Oth Century Children's Poetry Treasury contains 211 poems by 137 poets, arranged by theme. It is perfectly suited for introducing young readers to quality poetry.

Children naturally like poetry. Poems have a predictable rhythm and are often realitybased. They have everyday meaning, making it easy for students to identify with.



Getting started...
To increase students' interest in poetry, make your classroom poetry-friendly. Hang poster boards with poems written on them all over your classroom: from the ceiling, on the bulletin board, off the side of your desk, etc.

Read -Aloud
For primary grades, help students learn to read by reading poetry out loud to them. Make a large chart with the text of a poem written on it in oversize letters. Point to the words as you read, showing left to right movement and one-to-one correspondence between the words and the poem as a whole.

For second grade and up, have students write their own poems, as writing poetry is a useful way of studying it. And since reading and writing go hand in hand, students' writing reinforces reading.

In The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, Peter experiences the wonders of snow. The fluffy white carpet makes a nice memory, even if it melts away. Create 3-D winter scenes (use cotton for snow) and display them on your bulletin board.

Freight Train, by Donald Crews, depicts the wonders of a colorful train in motion. Create a class train. Appoint a child to be the engine, and then "attach" other children. Add sound and movement. Explain that you have created cooperation in motion.

  • The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury by Selected by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Meilo So
  • September 28, 1999
  • Juvenile Nonfiction - Poetry; Poetry
  • Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • $19.95
  • 9780679893141

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