A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
APRIL 14:

  • Happy birthday Frank Remkiewicz (Horrible Harry series).
  • It’s the birth date of Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), who worked with Helen Keller and assisted Keller in writing The Story of My Life, and Robert Lopshire (1927-2002), Put Me in the Zoo.
  • In 1828, Noah Webster copyrights the first edition of his dictionary.
  • The epic and controversial classic, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, was published in 1939. Read other John Steinbeck books as well, The Red Pony and The Pearl.
  • It’s National Pecan Day. Read Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

April marks National Poetry Month and on April 18 we celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day much beloved by school children and poetry enthusiasts. The idea behind the event is quite simple: select a poem that you love and carry it with you today to share with classmates, coworkers, family, and friends. Activities have been planned in schools, libraries, workplaces, and bookstores across the country. The Academy of American Poets provides lots of ideas, including finding a poem on a mobile device.

Of course, we have been celebrating National Poetry Month on the Almanac with the essays on Joyce Sidman and Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog. But if you are hunting for a perfect poem for you pocket take a look at one of the works of  Jack Prelutsky. Jack did not think, at first, that he would become one of America’s best loved poets for children, much less be selected as America’s first Poet Laureate for Children. He hoped to be an illustrator, and showed his art with some poems he had written to Greenwillow’s legendary editor Susan Hirschman. At this point in his life, Prelutsky drove a cab to make ends meets. Then Hirschman did something extraordinary; she offered to take him to lunch in the executive dining room if he brought a good poem to her each week. Since this might be the only solid meal he could count on, Prelutsky started to craft a poem a week. Eventually, his body of work would make cab driving no longer necessary. I have always thought this story one of the most beautiful of the editor/author sagas that I know.

Several years later Prelutsky wrote 107 poems for his best-known compilation of poetry, The New Kid on the Block. It features unforgettable creatures such as the Slyne, the Gloppers, and Baloney Belly Billy. Hirschman had to work overtime to convince James Stevenson, a New Yorker cartoonist, to illustrate the book, but Stevenson finally agreed to do so. The result was a wonderful collaboration between author and artist—and a book that delights the eye and the ear.

The poet Wallace Stegner wrote that the purpose of poetry is to contribute to man’s happiness. Well, Jack Prelutsky’s poetry makes me happy. In 2008 he published a book of dog poems called My Dog May Be a Genius that works for readers two through fourteen. The title poem will be in my pocket today. I love to use it in classes for responsive readings. Dog nut that I am, I cannot resist the opening lines: “My dog may be a genius/of that there’s little doubt.” Strong rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, tongue-twisters, word play—all the Prelutsky hallmarks, including his great sense of humor—can be found in abundance in this volume.

I hope all my readers celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. Click here to see a wonderful video created by John Schumaker of the Brook Forest Elementary School in Illinois and Shannon Miller of the Van Meter School in Iowa about their festivities in 2011.  And thank you Jack Prelutsky for keeping me, and so many children, happy while reading your verse.

Here’s a page from My Dog May Be a Genius:

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Originally posted April 14, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for My Dog May Be a Genius
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COMMENTS

  1. John says:

    In my pocket today…

    LOVE THAT DOG (Inspired by Walter Dean Myers) by Jack

    “Love that dog,
    like a bird loves to fly
    I said I love that dog
    like a bird loves to fly
    Love to call him in the morning
    love to call him
    “Hey there, Sky!”

    -Sharon Creech

  2. Sarah says:

    Listen to the MUSTN’Ts, child,
    Listen to the DON’Ts
    Listen to the SHOULDN’Ts
    The IMPOSSIBLEs, the WON’Ts
    Listen to the NEVER HAVES
    Then listen close to me –
    Anything can happen, child,
    ANYTHING can be.

    ~ Shel Silverstein

  3. Alethea says:

    In my pocket today…

    Beowulf’s Poem from THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING by Maryrose Wood

    Moon, moon, moon.
    Night, no moon? Dark.
    Night, yes moon? Light!
    Yes, moon!
    Ahwooooo!

  4. Anita says:

    John: Thank you. What a great idea. Yours is one of my favorites. I hope everyone posts their favorite poem today.

  5. Muriel Feldshuh says:

    A Little Poem For Poetry Month
    by Jack Prelutsky
    I’m glad we have a Poetry Month,
    But still, I wonder why
    They chose a month with thirty days-
    Were months in short supply?
    I wish that they’d selected
    A longer month, like May.
    I’m certain I’d appreciate
    That extra poetry day.

    Of course, if they’d picked February,
    i would be aghast,
    For February’s very short
    And passes far too fast.
    But April’s not as short as that,
    So I don’t hesitate
    To say I’m glad it’s Poetry Month,
    Hooray! Let’s celebrate.

    Celebrate Poetry Every Day!

  6. Kathy says:

    maybe this will bring my Red Sox some good luck

    Goodbye Curse

    “who’s you Daddy?” screamed the fans
    At the red-socked also rans.
    Three to zip, one more to go,
    So long Pedro and D. Lowe.
    As Kerry Flipped and “w” flopped,
    A-Rod raised his hand and chopped.
    Damon ripped and Papi popped,
    Shill shellacked and we believed,
    Embree closed and Gotham grieved.

    Moon eclipses overhead,
    St. Louis sky is Boston red.
    Last out is made, celebration,
    All is right with Red Sox Nation.
    Pesky, Bucky, Buckner, Boone;
    These words no longer fit the tune.
    Goodbye Curse, goodnight moon.

    by Joe Manning written right after the 2004 final game of the World Series

  7. suzi w. says:

    You be saucer
    I’ll be cup
    piggyback, piggyback,
    pick me up.

    You be tree,
    I’ll be pears,
    carry me, carry me
    up the stairs

    You be Good
    I’ll be Night
    tuck me in, tuck me in
    nice and tight.

    by Eve Merriam

    (The only thing I don’t like about this poem is the pears, but it rhymes with stairs. Apples doesn’t rhyme with anything in this poem.)

    I heard Jack P. speak once. He was wonderful.

  8. Challenge

    There’s one thing I can say for sure
    it’s hard to hide a dinosaur.

    First his tail, then his snout,
    when one is hid, the other’s out.

  9. Of the many poems I count as “favorites,” this one feels right for my pocket today:

    PEBBLES by Valerie Worth

    Pebbles belong to no one
    Until you pick them up—
    Then they are yours.

    But which, of all the world’s
    Mountains of little broken stones,
    Will you choose to keep?

    The smooth black, the white,
    The rough gray with sparks
    Shining in its cracks?

    Somewhere the best pebble must
    lie hidden, meant for you
    If you can find it.

    —by Valerie Worth (ALL THE SMALL POEMS AND FOURTEEN MORE)

    Happy Poetry Month! Thank you, Anita.

  10. Gigi says:

    Mmmmmm, so hard to pick just one. Ok. The poem in my pocket today is a haiku by Issa: Don’t worry spider, I keep house casually. {translation, Robert Hass}

  11. Anita says:

    Martha: Thanks so much for this gem. I’ll be talking about Valerie Worth and All the Small Poems and Fourteen More on April 20th on the Almanac.

  12. Robin says:

    What is Brown?

    Brown in the color of a country road
    Back of a turtle
    Back of a toad.
    Brown is cinnamon
    And morning toast
    And the good smell of
    The Sunday roast.
    Brown is the color of work
    And the sound of a river.
    Brown is bronze and a bow
    And a quiver.
    Brown is the house
    On the edge of town
    Where wind is tearing
    The shingles down.
    Brown is a freckle
    Brown is a mole
    Brown is the earth
    When you did a hole.
    Brown is the hair
    On many a head
    Brown is chocolate
    And gingerbread.
    Brown is a feeling
    You get inside
    When wondering makes
    Your mind grow wide.
    Brown is leather
    And a good glove —
    Brown is comfortable
    As love.
    -Mary O’Neill

  13. Chris McDonnell says:

    Here’s mine. Happy Poem-in-your-pocket day to everyone!

    First Lesson by Phillip Booth

    Lie back daughter, let your head
    be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
    Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
    your arms wide, lie out on the stream
    and look high at the gulls. A dead-
    man’s float is face down. You will dive
    and swim soon enough where this tidewater
    ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
    me, when you tire on the long thrash
    to your island, lie up, and survive.
    As you float now, where I held you
    and let go, remember when fear
    cramps your heart what I told you:
    lie gently and wide to the light-year
    stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

  14. Hey Diddle Diddle As told By The Dish

    I’m big and I’m round and I’m usually flat.
    If you go to the kitchen that’s where I’m at.
    You can use me for dinner or breakfast or lunch.
    I’ll hold all the snacks that you want to munch.

    A long time ago I ran with a spoon.
    We ran from a dog, and a cat, and his tune.
    He fiddled and fiddled till the cow jumped real high.
    The moon sort of grinned as the cow sailed by.

    So I grabbed the spoon’s hand and away we did go.
    And we ran and we ran though we ran kind of slow.
    I can still hear dog’s laughter at the sport he thought great.
    And that is the story of a dish called a plate.

  15. Tom a says:

    A nice poem to have today would be the one from the Wonka movie:
    “we dare not go a’hunting,
    For fear of little men.”

  16. Sarah says:

    This is one of my favorites by J.R.R. Tolkien:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.

    It isn’t exactly a children’s poem, but I first read it in sixth grade.

  17. Deb Tyo says:

    The first poem I ever memorized…

    Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams die
    Life is a broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.

    Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams go
    Life is a barren field
    Frozen with snow.

    -Langston Hughes

  18. Anita says:

    Thank you everyone for these great posts. It was wonderful to see the range of poems, both stylistically and in content. I’m glad we were able to celebrate poetry today on the Children’s Book a Day Almanac.

  19. Donna says:

    So much depends
    upon

    a red wheel
    barrow

    glazed with rain
    water

    beside the white
    chickens.

    -William Carlos Williams

  20. Lisa H says:

    Poem In Your Pocket Day was a huge hit at my school. We had sharing with buddy classes, poetry reading on the microphone at lunch, poems on the playground, and more. Our kindergartners memorized poems, too. It was amazing to see and hear groups of kids clamoring to read their poems. So much fun!

  21. Here’s what was in my pocket today:

    i carry your heart with me
    e.e. cummings

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantr
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)X
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

  22. Sydnee says:

    INVITATION

    If you are a dreamer, come in.
    If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
    A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
    If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
    For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
    Come in!
    Come in!

    -Shel Silverstein

  23. The poem that I shared on Poem In Your Pocket Day is…..

    HUG O’ WAR

    I will not play at tug o’war
    I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
    Where everyone hugs
    Instead of tugs
    Where everyone giggles
    And rolls on the rug,
    Where everyone kisses
    And everyone grins
    And everyone cuddles
    And everyone wins.

    -Shel Silverstein

  24. Rodney D says:

    I never saw a Purple Cow,
    I never hope to see one.
    But I can tell you anyhow,
    I’d rather see than be one

    And thus my love of Jack Prelutsky was born. I memorized that poem in the first grade and I thought then, as I do now, that this author’s work is clean, whimsical, and wonderful.

  25. Erica S. says:

    A little delayed, but here’s one of my all-time Jack Prelutsky favorites:

    Homework! Oh, Homework!
    I hate you! You stink!
    I wish I could wash you away in the sink,
    if only a bomb
    would explode you to bits.
    Homework! Oh, homework!
    You’re giving me fits.

    I’d rather take baths
    with a man-eating shark,
    or wrestle a lion
    alone in the dark,
    eat spinach and liver,
    pet ten porcupines,
    than tackle the homework,
    my teacher assigns.

    Homework! Oh, homework!
    you’re last on my list,
    I simple can’t see
    why you even exist,
    if you just disappeared
    it would tickle me pink.
    Homework! Oh, homework!
    I hate you! You stink!

  26. Eve says:

    STICKS FOR HAIR

    I know a boy
    named Sticks-for-Hair.
    It sticks out here,
    it sticks out there.
    It sticks out anywhere it pleases,
    but falls in place
    each time
    he
    sneezes.
    (by Eve Robillard)

  27. Katrina says:

    My favorite poem of the moment is “On the Shelf and Under the Bed” by Laura Purdie Salas (from BookSpeak! Poems About Books)
    Sharp corners.
    Clean pages.
    Fresh ink.
    Glossy cover.
    The perfect book
    stands straight
    on the shelf
    up there.

    Down here
    dust bunnies
    snuggle with me under the bed.
    Grape jelly blobs stain and
    smudge my pages.

    My corners bend,
    slick with greasy fingerprints
    and my spine is snapped
    from being bent
    backwards.

    That
    poor
    perfect
    book —
    unread,
    unshared,
    unloved.

  28. Momo says:

    In my school library I send my teachers a poem each week. Here is one I keep in my pocket…

    Once Inside the Library
    by Barbara A. Huff

    It looks like any building when you pass it on the street,
    made of stone and glass and marble, made of iron and concrete.
    But once inside you can ride a camel,or a train,
    visit Rome, Siam,or Nome, feel a hurricane,
    meet a king, learn to sing , how to bake a pie,
    go to sea, plant a tree, find how airplanes fly,
    train a horse, and of course have all the dogs you’d like,
    see the moon, a sandy dune, or catch a whopping pike.

    Everything that books can bring you’ll find inside those walls.
    A world is there for you to share when adventure calls.
    You cannot tell its magic by the way the building looks,
    but there’s wonderment within it — the wonderment of books.

  29. Fran in Texas says:

    It’s a little late for posting, but I wanted to say that the comment from Momo reminded me of the magic of sparking imagination in “Tell Me Some More,” by Crosby Bonsall. I read it to children visiting the school library as a class, and they were always taken by the idea of being able to visit a library and hold a camel or take home a steam shovel (in a book!). Our library copy was in poor shape, but we never discarded it!

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