Word Cloud: WORDPLAY

by NONA BLYTH CLOUD

American schoolchildren now go back to school before Labor Day in a number of school districts in 13 states. Between 1900 and 1990, most U.S. schools had a summer break beginning sometime in June and going through the end of August. While multiple reasons are being given for this trend, one of the biggest factors is allowing teachers more instructional time before those all-too-critical statewide assessment tests in the spring.

What does this have to do with poetry, you ask? I thought it would be great to have one last hurrah for Summer, just for Kids – and for that Kid which still lurks in the maze of memory inside every Grown-Up.

Who better to celebrate with than Jack Prelutsky (1940 – ), born on September 8th, just as children were getting used to being back in their classrooms? After all, he was named as the very first ‘Children’s Poet Laureate’ by the Poetry Foundation (2006-2008).

Words are his favorite playthings, and we’re lucky he shares his toys with the rest of us. ‘Children’s poetry’ is often looked down on by “serious” critics, but it is the first doorway into poetry. If children peek around that doorframe and don’t feel welcome, chances are they won’t connect to poetry later in life either.

So for the child in you, and for any children you have in your life, read on – out loud is the best way!

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Poems from Kids Pick the Funniest Poems:

Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face

Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you’d be forced to smell your feet.

Your nose would be a source of dread
were it attached atop your head,
it soon would drive you to despair,
forever tickled by your hair.

Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe,
for when you were obliged to sneeze,
your brain would rattle from the breeze.

Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,
remains between your eyes and chin,
not pasted on some other place —
be glad your nose is on your face!

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Suzanna Socked Me Sunday

Suzanna socked me Sunday,
she socked me Monday, too,
she also socked me Tuesday,
I was turning black and blue.

She socked me double Wednesday,
and Thursday even more,
but when she socked me Friday,
she began to get me sore.

“Enough’s enough,” I yelled at her,
“I hate it when you hit me!”
“Well, then I won’t” Suzanna said—
that Saturday, she bit me.

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I Found a Four-Leaf Clover

I found a four-leaf clover
and was happy with my find,
but with time to think it over,
I’ve entirely changed my mind.
I concealed it in my pocket,
safe inside a paper pad,
soon, much swifter than a rocket,
my good fortune turned to bad.

I smashed my fingers in a door,
I dropped a dozen eggs,
I slipped and tumbled to the floor,
a dog nipped both my legs,
my ring slid down the bathtub drain,
my pen leaked on my shirt,
I barked my shin, I missed my train,
I sat on my dessert.

I broke my brand-new glasses,
and I couldn’t find my keys,
I stepped in spilled molasses,
and was stung by angry bees.
When the kitten ripped the curtain,
and the toast burst into flame,
I was absolutely certain
that the clover was to blame.

I buried it discreetly
in the middle of a field,
now my luck has changed completely,
and my wounds have almost healed.
If I ever find another,
I will simply let it be,
or I’ll give it to my brother—
he deserves it more than me.

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Poem from Something Big Has Been Here:

My Neighbor’s Dog is Purple

My neighbor’s dog is purple,
Its eyes are large and green,
its tail is almost endless,
the longest I have seen.

My neighbor’s dog is quiet,
It does not bark one bit,
but when my neighbor’s dog is near,
I feel afraid of it.

My Neighbor’s dog looks nasty,
it has a wicked smile…..
before my neighbor painted it,
it was a crocodile.
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Poems from My Dog May Be a Genius:

The Average Hippopotamus

The average hippopotamus
is big from top to bottomus,
It travels at a trotamus,
And swims when days are hotamus.

Because it eats a lotamus,
It’s practically a yachtamus,
So it’s a cinch to spotamus
The average hippopotamus.

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My Dog May Be a Genius

My dog may be a genius,
and in fact there’s little doubt.
He recognizes many words,
unless I spell them out.
If I so much as whisper “walk,”
he hurries off at once
to fetch his leash…it’s evident
my dog is not a dunce.
I can’t say “food” in front of him,
I spell f-o-o-d,
and he goes wild unless I spell
his t-r-e-a-t.
But recently this tactic
isn’t working out too well.
I think my d-o-g has learned
to s-p-e-l-l.

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Poem from Ride a Purple Pelican:

Kitty Caught a Caterpillar

Kitty caught a caterpillar,
Kitty caught a snail,
Kitty caught a turtle
By its tiny turtle tail,
Kitty caught a cricket
With a sticky bit of thread,
She tried to catch a bumblebee,
The bee caught her instead.

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Poem from The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders:

Carpenter, Carpenter

Carpenter, carpenter, build us a house,
A sweet little house for a mouse and a spouse,
A mouse and a spouse and a family too,
We know that you can, and we hope that you do.

Build it of brick so it’s cozy and warm,
To keep us from harm in a cold winter storm.
As soon as you finish, we’ll pay you with cheese,
Carpenter, carpenter, build our house, please.

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Poem from It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles: 

Deep in Our Refrigerator

Deep in our refrigerator,
there’s a special place
for food that’s been around awhile . . .
we keep it, just in case.
“It’s probably too old to eat,”
my mother likes to say.
“But I don’t think it’s old enough
for me to throw away.”

It stays there for a month or more
to ripen in the cold,
and soon we notice fuzzy clumps
of multicolored mold.
The clumps are larger every day,
we notice this as well,
but mostly what we notice
is a certain special smell.

When finally it all becomes
a nasty mass of slime,
my mother takes it out, and says,
“Apparently, it’s time.”
She dumps it in the garbage can,
though not without regret,
then fills the space with other food
that’s not so ancient yet.

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Poem from The Dragons Are Singing Tonight:

A Dragon’s Lament

I’m tired of being a dragon,
Ferocious and brimming with flame,
The cause of unspeakable terror
When anyone mentions my name.
I’m bored with my bad reputation
For being a miserable brute,
And being routinely expected
To brazenly pillage and loot.

I wish that I weren’t repulsive,
Despicable, ruthless, and fierce,
With talons designed to dismember
And fangs finely fashioned to pierce.
I’ve lost my desire for doing
The deeds any dragon should do,
But since I can’t alter my nature,
I guess I’ll just terrify you.

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Poem from If Not for the Cat:

If Not for the Cat

If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.

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In a Scholastic.com interview, Jack Prelutsky was asked where his ideas come from, and he answered: “Everywhere! Everything I see or hear can become a poem. Several toys in my studio have turned into poems. I remember things that happened when I was a kid . . . Or I write about things I like or don’t like.”



He was born in Brooklyn, and went to Hunter College in New York City. Although he claims he hated poetry through most of his childhood, he did learn to love it later in life, and has devoted many years since to writing fresh, humorous poetry aimed at kids. Now Prelutsky has was over 40 collections of original verse and anthologies of children’s poetry that he’s edited.

He lives in Seattle, Washington, and spends much of his time presenting poems to children in schools and libraries throughout the United States.

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I hope you had some fun while there’s still a little bit of summer left.

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Sources

Bibliography

 

Word Cloud photo by Larry Cloud

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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6 Responses to Word Cloud: WORDPLAY

  1. Terry Welshans says:

    Oh dear, more shopping for the grand kids at Amazon…..

    • Speaking of shopping. This week, as I was out and about, discovered the stores are loading shelves with Halloween supplies. This still August, people! It’s HOT outside.

      I am sure all that chocolate will survive and not turn into gooey wads inside their wrappers before people get them home after leaving the sack in a hot car for a few hours. Perhaps it’s a marketing strategy to sell more than twice as much candy.

      Buy kids books instead. They don’t melt in the hot sun. A careful review of the medical literature does not find a single reported incident of tooth decay secondary to book reading.

      • Terry Welshans says:

        Yep. Back int he days before lactose became a no-no for me, I was a chocoholic. It never made it home on some days…. Today, I get my chocolate fix with lactose-free low fat chocolate milk. Yummie! Three books on order for the grandkids. I hope they like them as much as I liked the samples above.

        • wordcloud9 says:

          I hope so too Terry – as you can see from the Bibliography, there’s lots more Prelutsky – it was hard to narrow down my choices for this post!

          I buy books as gifts for my cousin’s ‘adotable’ granddaughters, so I’m always looking for the ones that are smart and funny for them.

      • Malisha says:

        I stopped to donate a trunk full of stuff to a thrift shop today but their donations door was closed. I went in the front door with a box of stuff and there AT THE ENTRANCE was the sign: ONLY 60 DAYS UNTIL HALLOWEEN!
        Only. Sixty. Days.

        • wordcloud9 says:

          It’s worse than that – catalogs have been arriving in my mailbox with CHRISTMAS items in them since the end of JUNE. Only. Six. Months. Away.

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