Reviews for Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry : How to Write a Poem

Booklist Reviews 2008 May #1
Along with easy-to-follow tips for creating verse, haiku, and concrete poetry, the reigning Children's Poet Laureate offers insights into his own thought processes ("Different foods behave in different ways when you squeeze them."), glimpses of his childhood, and personal anecdotes. Appropriately, his brief closing glossary of poet's tools includes entries for poetic license, pun, and irony. To get the creative juices flowing in budding versifiers, Prelutsky tucks in more than a dozen examples from his own work, plus 10 two-and-part-of-a-third-line "poemstarts." Although Ralph J. Fletcher's Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out (2002) is a more wide-ranging guide to poetic techniques and forms, Prelutsky's amiable primer will be more appealing to less-motivated audiences; it will not only entice them into making poetry but also leave them better able to appreciate rhyme and wordplay in general. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 May #2
For readers fond of Prelutsky's style, this volume offers both pointers on how to write similarly silly verse and just what inspired him to do so in the first place. Though some children may find his reminiscences mysterious--after all, his childhood was quite a while back and kids today might not understand just how playing catch with a meatball could ever seem like fun--the connections between his memories and poems are clearly drawn. Prelutsky begins each section with a brief story, then presents a poem or two inspired by the memory or experience; a writing tip that relates to the poem(s) follows. The tips are fairly unremarkable (for example, write about your own experiences or always carry a notebook) and occasionally repetitious. Small black-and-white illustrations and borders decorate some of the pages. While Prelutsky's poetry is generally playful and appealing, the decision to deconstruct it reveals a certain sameness to the works included here that may make emulating his style easier but may also detract from the reader's appreciation of same. (Nonfiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 March #1

Although Prelutsky's (My Dog May Be a Genius, reviewed above) popularity and his role as the first children's poet laureate will excite hopes for this primer, his advice on writing poetry is limited and disorganized, albeit presented in his usual gleeful voice. He arranges his book in sections that each include an anecdote ("My Father's Underwear," "An Awful, Awful Meal") followed by the poem or poems inspired by the experience and a lengthy "Writing Tip." However, he repeats much the same advice regardless of the ostensible topic. Prelutsky tells would-be poets to keep a notebook and/or to make lists in at least 10 sections; he counsels them to "exaggerate" in five. Sometimes the writing tip offers directions for a specific poem ("Write about your mother's rules and... why they drive you crazy"). A few of Prelutsky's assertions may raise some eyebrows ("A poem doesn't always have to be about something. You're allowed to write a poem about pretty much nothing at all," he opines, going on to say that sound can be as important as meaning), and for the most part his tips, appropriately, apply only to humorous poems. While this is not a book for teachers seeking a comprehensive guide, readers looking for the story behind a particular Prelutsky verse will enjoy the book, as will kids who want to try on Prelutsky's style. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 June

Gr 3-6-- In this engaging book, the popular and prolific Prelutsky relates personal anecdotes and then shows how he created poems from them, in most cases by using comic exaggeration to suit his artistic purposes. Some are from his childhood, like "My Mother Says I'm Sickening," which grew out of playing with his food at the dinner table. ("My mother says I'm sickening/My mother says I'm crude/She says this when she sees me/Playing Ping-Pong with my food.") Others are more recent. Something as simple as buying a banana from a street vendor led to "I'm Building a Bridge of Bananas." Also included are plenty of writing tips, with practical, lively suggestions ideal for the target age group. Prelutsky repeatedly advises readers to keep a notebook and write down every idea, to give ideas time to percolate, to rewrite, and to have fun. Even when defining poetic terms, he is humorous and conversational: "Poetic license is my favorite license," he claims, before going on to offer a simple and understandable definition. The book concludes with a list of "Poemstarts to Get You Started." A good addition for public, school, and classroom libraries.--Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

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