Review Blog

Sep 09 2013

Stardines swim high across the sky by Jack Prelutsky

cover image

Ill. by Carin Berger. HarperCollins, 2013. ISBN 9780062014641.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Poetry. Humour. With verses about animals that are made up using the roots of several words, these poems are simply fun. Star and sardine, for example is an amalgam that produces a fish like thing in the night sky, swimming in giant school, lighting up the night sky. The sobcat is a very very sad feline, while the slobbster is a very messy lobster, so messy in fact that it is a slob.
Each of the animals has a poem about it, explaining its virtues and possibly its disadvantages as well. The poems are short, easy to read, but do not pander to a younger audience, using an array of wonderful words like lachrymose, preposterously and copious. I found myself thinking how to use it in the classroom, not merely as a wonderful read a loud, but as a model for poetry lessons, encouraging children to make up words from known animals, and then using the technique to make up a poem. Most of the poems use the basic four line stanza of alternatively rhyming lines, while some use nursery rhymes as the basis of the rhythm, and so are easy to emulate.
The illustrations will engage the children's interest immediately. Berger builds dioramas, using a huge range of things to build up the images which are then photographed for the book. Children will love picking out the found objects, the pieces of note paper, he music paper, wool, cloth, ribbon, cut up paper and so on. Each page is absorbing to look at as the poem is read. It is a lovely book to hold and read, full of possibilities, humour and fun, begging to be shared.
Fran Knight

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