• Happy birthday Anne McCaffrey (Dragon Song), Jan Wahl (Pleasant Fieldmouse), Edward Myers (Storyteller), Karen Wallace (Bears in the Forest), and Tad Hills (How Rocket Learned to Read).
  • It’s the birth date of Margaret Scherf (1908–1979) Glass on the Stairs, and Augusta Baker (1911–1998), Young Years: Best Loved Stories and Poems for Little Children.
  • Best birthday wishes to the fictional pranksters Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
  • Birthday greetings also go to the computer company Apple Inc., formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Read Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers by Mike Venezia.

Happy April Fools’ Day! As someone quite gullible, I find this day taxing. But since April is also Poetry Month, I have a reason to celebrate today. In a new offering that will appeal to both adults and children, Jack Prelutsky has teamed up with the talented Carin Berger to create a book that provides as much delight for the ear as the eye.

In Sardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems, Jack Prelutsky, America’s first Children’s Book Laureate, has created sixteen poems that combine the animate and inanimate world. “Stardines swim high across the sky, / And brightly shine as they glide by. / In giant schools, their brilliant lights / Illuminate the darkest nights.” With her signature collage artwork, Berger places the “stardines” at appropriate spots in the night sky. Then the readers meet a whole group of creatures: bluffaloes who combine attitude and bulk, fountain lions who run water day and night, messy slobsters, noisy magpipes, and happy jollyfish. Each imaginary creature has been given a short but snappy poem to describe its qualities.

Prelutsky’s poetry is always fun to read aloud. But this volume is particularly spectacular in its artistic treatment. The entire book has been set up as a scientist’s specimen book or box, and many of the pages are lined as if placed on tablet paper. Set in courier type, the text looks as if it might have been created on a typewriter and then pasted in the album. For many of the creatures, Berger has created miniature dioramas from cut paper, engravings, wire, thread, wood—even beeswax! Helpful tools such as a pronunciation guide have been provided. The endpapers accentuate the idea of the book as an old library title, as does a preprinted cover that looks like the wood of a specimen box. All these details add to the illusion that these imaginary creatures really do exist in nature.

After reading the poems, children can be encouraged to combine their own animate and inanimate objects, fashion new creatures, and then draw them. The book naturally suggests classroom use or activities for a family. If you need to be a fool today, be a poetry fool and pick up Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems.

Here’s a page from Stardines Swim High Across the Sky:

Stardines image


Originally posted April 1, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Art, Science
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems


  1. Catherine says:

    What a beautiful way to start Poetry Month. I can’t wait to get this book!

  2. Linda Elsner says:

    This is a real gem!

  3. What a beautiful book!

    Anita, thank you for keeping us tuned to the wonderful world of exceptional children’s books.

    Read Aloud Dad

  4. Janet Wong says:

    LOVE this book–it’s quite useful to think of it when encountering “bluffaloes”–and am so happy to see it recognized on the NCTE Poetry Notables list (published in SLJ)! http://www.slj.com/2014/04/collection-development/introducing-students-to-nctes-notable-poetry-titles/

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