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Juvenile Books Author of the Month
Jack Prelutsky

8 September 1940 -- ???

Jack Prelutsky was born on September 8, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. He was educated through the New York City public school system and graduated from the High School of Music and Art, where he studied voice.

He studied voice at various music schools and sang with summer opera companies in Boston and in the state of Washington. When Prelutsky was 10 years old, his voice was so remarkable that he was often paid to sing at weddings and other events, and had performances booked solid almost every weekend. He was even also given free voice lessons by the Choir Master of the Metropolitan Opera.

Upon graduating from high school, Prelutsky attended Hunter College, which is now the City University of New York. He left school shortly after "to become a beatnik." [6]

To this day, Prelutsky claims to have hated poetry through most of his childhood. In grade school, he had a teacher who left him with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. "I was told it was good for me, but I wasn't convinced." [4]

He rediscovered poetry when he was in his 20's. "I realized poetry was a means of communication; that it could be as exciting or boring as the person or that experience." [3] It was this new outlook that drove him to write about things that kids really cared about and to strive to make poetry fun.

At that time, Prelutsky spent months drawing imaginary animals. One evening he decided to write a little poem to go with each drawing. After seeing his work, a friend encouraged him to show the poems to an editor. That editor turned out to be Susan Hirschman, who thought he had a talent for writing verse. She told him that he was a natural poet and encouraged him to keep writing. She published his first book in 1967 and is his editor to this day.

Writing poetry has not been Prelutsky's only career. He has been a cab driver, a truck driver, a busboy, a bookseller, a door-to-door salesman, a photographer, a furniture mover, a potter, and a folk singer.

Prelutsky met his wife Carolynn when he went to Albuquerque to speak to children and teachers, something he loves to do to this day. Carolynn was the children's librarian assigned to shepherd him around town. "Within five minutes (according to Prelutsky) he had proposed to her; she accepted the next day and they were married some months later. That was over seven years ago.

Prelutsky has a number of interests, including bicycling, playing racquetball, woodworking, and cooking. He also likes metal and kinetic sculpture, inventing word and board games, reading, making collages, and playing tennis. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Carolynn and a vast collection of poetry books and decorative frogs in every shape, size, and form.

He is now the author of more than three dozen collections of original verse and anthologies of children's poetry. He also spends much of his time presenting poems to children in schools and libraries throughout the United States.

Information for this biography was taken from:
1) Anne Commire (ed.). Something About the Author, #22; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1981.
2) Interview With Jack Prelutsky; http://wildes.home.mindspring.com/OUAL/int/prelutskyjack.html.
3) "Jack Prelutsky", The Academy of American Poets; http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=69.
4) "Jack Prelutsky", KidsReads.com; http://www.kidsreads.com/authors/au-prelutsky-jack.asp.
5) Jack Prelutsky: Man of Many Talents; http://www.teachingk-8.com/archives/html/prelutsky.html.
6) "Jack Prelutsky" Teachers @ Random Resource Center; http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/rc/rc_ab_jpr.html.
7) Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. St. James Guide to Children's Writers; St. James Press: Detroit, Mich., 1999.

E-LIN The Wild Baby Gets a Puppy (1988) by Barbro Lindgren and adapted from the Swedish by Jack Prelutsky -- The wild baby is anxious to have a real puppy for his birthday until he discovers that "Rags" has some special virtues of his own.

E-Prelutsky It's Thanksgiving (1982) -- Presents twelve Thanksgiving-related poems, including "When Daddy Carves the Turkey," "I Ate Too Much," "Daddy's Football Game," And "If Turkeys Thought."

E-KIT-Read Read Aloud Poems for the Very Young (1986) -- A collection of more than 200 short poems by both known and anonymous American and English poets.

E-PRE Ride a Purple Pelican (1986) -- A collection of short nonsense versus and nursery rhymes.

Non-Fiction Titles
J-811-PRE Circus (1974) -- Poems and illustrations depict the sights and sounds of the circus.

J-811-PRE It's Halloween (1977) -- Thirteen Halloween poems for beginner readers.

J-811-PRE Rainy, Rainy Saturday (1980) -- Fourteen humorous poems about the positives and negatives of a rainy Saturday.

J-811.008-PRE The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom (1997) -- An illustrated collection of poems about animals, insects, and birds by poets from different parts of the world.

J-811.008-RAN The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983) -- Jack Prelutsky wrote an introduction to this book of poems, which includes more than 550 poems by American, English, and anonymous poets.

J-811.54-PRE The Baby Uggs Are Hatching (1982) -- A collection of poems about strange creatures such as the sneepy and the quossible.

J-811.54-PRE The Dragons Are Singing Tonight (1993) -- A collection of poems about dragons.

J-811.54-PRE It's Raining Pigs and Noodles (2000) -- Some humorous poems such as "The Dancing Hippopotami," "You Can't Make Me Eat That," "My Father's Name Is Sasquatch," and "Dear Wumbledeeduble."

J-811.54-PRE The New Kid on the Block: Poems (1984) -- Poems about strange creatures and people, such as Baloney Belly Billy and the Gloopy Gloopers.

J-811.54-PRE A Pizza the Size of the Sun (1996) -- A collection of humorous poetry on a number of subjects.

J-811.54-PRE Something Big Has Been Here: Poems (1990) -- A collection of humorous poems on a number of topics

J-811.54-PRE Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast: Dinosaur Poems (1988) -- A collection of humorous poems about dinosaurs.

J-811.54-Prelutsky Rolling Harvey Down the Hill (1987) -- Meet a gang of boys (Lumpy, Tony, Willie, and Harvey) and the mischievous narrator who tells all about them.

J-811.54-PRE Something Big Has Been Here (1991) -- A collection of humorous poems on a number of topics.

Interview With Jack Prelutsky (http://wildes.home.mindspring.com/OUAL/int/prelutskyjack.html) -- This interview with Prelutsky talks about some of his works and gives biographical informationl It was originally published in BookPage in 1993.

"Jack Prelutsky", The Academy of American Poets (http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=69) -- This site provides a brief biography of the author.

"Jack Prelutsky", KidsReads.com (http://www.kidsreads.com/authors/au-prelutsky-jack.asp) -- At this site, Prelutsky tells the tale of his life.

Jack Prelutsky: Man of Many Talents (http://www.teachingk-8.com/archives/html/prelutsky.html) -- An in-depth biography of Jack Prelutsky is published here.

"Jack Prelutsky" Teachers @ Random Resource Center (http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/rc/rc_ab_jpr.html) -- This site, designed by Random House publishers, provides some biographical information of the popular children's poet. 

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