Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rat for Lunch by Jack Prelutsky

Poetry with a refrain

"Rat for Lunch" by Jack Prelutsky from A Pizza the Size of the Sun, illustrated by James Stevenson, Greenwillow Books, New York, 1996.

Introduction: Display school cafeteria menu. Read the "main dishes". Ask students to indicate favorite dishes by a show of hands as your read the menus. Tell students to listen carefully to the poem for all the various ways RAT can be served for their dining pleasure.


Rat for lunch! Rat for lunch!
Yum! Delicious! Munch munch munch!
One by one or by the bunch--
Rat, or rat, oh rat for lunch!

Scrambled slug in salty slime
is our choice at breakfast time,
but for lunch, we say to you,
nothing but a rat will do.

Rat for lunch! Rat for lunch!
Yum! Delicious! Munch munch munch!
One by one or by the bunch--
Rat, oh rat, oh rat for lunch!

For our snack each afternoon,
we chew bits of baked baboon,
curried squirrel, buttered bat,
but for lunch it must be rat.

Rat for lunch! Rat for lunch!
Yum! Delicious! Munch munch munch!
One by one or by the bunch--
Rat, oh rat, oh rat for lunch!

In the evening we may dine
on fillet of porcupine,
buzzard gizzard, lizard chops,
but for lunch a rat is tops.

Rat for lunch! Rat for lunch!
Yum! Delicious! Munch munch munch!
One by one or by the bunch--
Rat, oh rat, oh rat for lunch!

Rat, we loved you steamed or stewed,
blackened, broiled, or barbecued.
Pickled, poached, or fried in fat,
there is nothing like a rat.

Rat for lunch! Rat for lunch!
Yum! Delicious! Munch munch munch!
One by one or by the bunch--
Rat, oh rat, oh rat for lunch!

Extension: Break students up into groups to read verses chorally. Have all students join in on chorus. Encourage students to find other poems with refrains to share and perform at other library visits.

This is by far one of my more favorite poems.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Karen Barbour; Aladdin Paperbacks, New York, 2001.

Marvelous Math, a recipient of the Parent's Choice Award and a selected Reading Rainbow Book, is a compilation of a number of amusing poems from various authors about math. These poems allow students to see how math can be found both in our daily lives and even in nature, as in Nature Knows Its Math by Joan Bransfield Graham:
the year
into seasons,
the snow then
some more
What students might find interesting about math is how it can be comforting as in Betsy Franco's poem Math Makes Me Feel Safe" when the speaker explains:
"Math makes me feel safe
knowing that my brother will always be
three years younger than I am,
and every day of the year will have
twenty-four hours."
Many elements of math are presented in this collection including calculators, fractions, time, and one entry that suggests the reader try to imagine life without numbers, reinforcing the idea that numbers and math are a vital part of our world.
Marvelous Math is visually appealing to children as illustrator Karen Barbour uses bright, bold colors with details standing out in black. Each page is covered with images that match the poem allowing children to make connections between the math concepts and the picture.
Marvelous Math would be a positive "addition" to a classroom library, one which could easily be utilized by a teacher for introducing a new math concept showing students that poetry and literature can cross over to many areas of learning.

Blackbeard: The Pirate King by J. Patrick Lewis

A bibliographic poem

Blackbeard: The Pirate King, told in verse by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrations by various artists based on stories, myths, documents, and their own imaginations. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 2006.

J. Patrick Lewis has created a bibliography of the notorious pirate Blackbeard using poems and prose. With the writings are an amazing collection of paintings depicting the life of this famous and infamous pirate. The paintings, ranging in time from 1730 to 2006, give the reader a feast for the eyes while reading Lewis's poetic account of the life of the pirate king.
Lewis has married with the paintings verses of both poetry and prose, describing events of truth and myths surrounding Blackbeard, whose real name may have been Edward Teach. Particularly fascinating is the earliest known illustration of Blackbeard by Thomas Nicholls from 1730 paired with a verse detailing the pirate's appearance:
"Now Teach was as tall as a waterfall...His beard began beneath his eyes, curled down in pigtail braids..."
Lewis uses imagery suited to the senses and rhythm and rhyme to create his writings, bringing to life the illustrations of the Pirate King as in "The Brethren of the Coast":
"But of all the thieves of the Seven Seas,
No one would ever reach
The height and might
Of the roguish knight
Of the Black Flag, Edward Teach."
In addition to offering an auditory and visual banquet of tales of high sea adventures, Lewis includes a time line of the highlights of Blackbeard's life and historical notes at the bottom of each page explaining the illustration and expanding upon the poem.
Blackbeard: The Pirate King will be most enjoyed by older students with an interest in history and pirates. The paintings chosen for this book will maintain that interest while the writing will engage the imaginations. Further personal research is encouraged with the historical notes and bibliography and websites offered at the end of the book. If an appeal for pirates was not within oneself before reading, curiosity will be piqued upon finishing this delightful rendering of the most famous pirate of them all.

"Spring Is" by Bobbi Katz

"Spring Is" by Bobbi Katz from The Random House Book of Poetry for Children: A Treasury of 572 Poems for Today's Child,
selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel, Random House, Inc, New York, 1983.

Introduction: Discuss with group the four seasons: the names, the weather, months on the calendar, etc. Take a poll or create a chart to illustrate group's favorite seasons. Inform group that you are going to focus on the season of spring today and will read a poem about spring. Before reading,make a list of several words to describe spring. Tell students to listen for any words they used to describe spring are in the poem you read.

Spring Is

Spring is when
the morning sputters like
so fast you can hardly keep up with them
spring is when
your scrambled eggs
and turn into a million daffodils
trembling in the sunshine.

Extension: Give students drawing paper and let them choose a word from the descriptive words for spring and illustrate it. Post drawings in library or school hallway on a bulletin board titled "Spring Is..."
Students could also be encouraged to find other poems that use words from the list of descriptors generated by the group to describe spring.