SOMETHING BIG HAS BEEN HERE
Prelutsky, Jack. 1990. SOMETHING BIG HAS BEEN HERE. Ill. by James Stevenson. New York:
Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 0965909816.
SOMETHING BIG HAS BEEN HERE is a collection of
poems by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by James Stevenson. This collection of humorous poems covers topics of interest
to children such as animals, school, parents, and other events or happenings that children can find humor in and enjoy.
The poems in this collection are not arranged in any particular order and the first poem in the book is also the title of
The use of humor in all the poems will appeal
universally to children of all ages and to adults who still have their inner child. Often, the poems will have
a slight twist at the end that is not what the reader was expecting. "Prelutsky
adopts a child's perspective to a remarkable degree--technically through his frequent use of the first person, but more fundamentally
through his unerring sense of kids' concerns and their humor." (Booklist, 1 September, 1990.)
The poems are still as fresh today as they were first published and should appeal to children of all ages for
several years to come. Even though the poems are short in length, they are very vivid and descriptive. Prelutsky
makes it easy for the reader to picture the image for themselves. The poems are accompanied by black and white illustrations
drawn by James Stevenson to bring out the humor in the poems.
One of the poems I enjoyed and thought children would easily respond to is entitled
I SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN BED TODAY (p. 28-29).
"I should have stayed in bed today,
in bed's where I belong,
as soon as I got up today,
things started going wrong,
I got a splinter in my foot,
my puppy made me fall,
I squirted toothpaste in my ear,
I crashed into the wall.
I knocked my homework off the desk,
it landed on my toes,
I spilled a glass of chocolate milk,
it's soaking through my clothes,
I accidentally bit my tongue,
that really made me moan,
and it was far from funny
when I banged my funny bone.
I scraped my knees, I bumped my nose,
I sat upon a pin,
I leapt up with alacrity,
and sharply barked my shin,
I stuck a finger in my eye,
the pain is quite severe,
I'd better get right back to bed
and stay there for a year.
Current and past students can easily picture these events and can probably think of a similar experience when
we wished we could just go back to bed.
This collection of poems is one that will to both younger and older students as well
as to those who enjoy humorous poetry. Some of the poems are silly and are pure fun to read, others have something
unexpected at the end to make you stop and think or wonder.
JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES
Fleischman, Paul. 1988. JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES. Ill. by Eric Beddows.
New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN: 0060218525.
JOYFUL NOISE is a collection of fourteen poems about a variety of insects, all written
by Paul Fleischman. This collection of poems won the Newbery award in 1989. These poems are all intended to be
read aloud by two readers at once so the result meshes as a musical duet. Fleischman has included this information in
a "Note" at the beginning of the book just after the Contents page.
Fleischman's poems are different from other poetry I've been exposed to, as these are
meant for two people to read together. These could also be adapted for choral readings by small groups as well.
The poems are written in two columns to make it convenient for each reader to speak their "lines." A few of the poems
were written with the insects speaking, presenting their point of view. Fleischman does an excellent job using imagery
and description so the reader can imagine what it feels like to be an insect. Fleischman has made the world of insects
come alive for the reader. The reader can feel an appreciation for the beauty of an insect's life.
Fleischman has written the poems so that the sounds the insects make come alive, thus
the title, JOYFUL NOISE. He makes the reader hear the drone of a honeybee, chirp of a cricket, and the raucous
noise of the cicada as well as describing the single day life of a mayfly. He includes poems about water striders, lightning
bugs, book lice and moths too. "He has combined the elements of sound and meaning to create clear, lively images of a variety
of insects. Elements of repetition, onomatopoeia, and alliteration are effectively used to create a character for each of
these creatures, with fireflies ``Flickering, flitting, flashing'' and mayflies
``lying, dying,'' which make these poems a joy for reading aloud." (School Library Journal,
1 February, 1988.) Of
all the poetry my students read during their unit on poetry, these were the poems they enjoyed the most and had some of the
most fun performing. They stated that the poems made more of an impact being read aloud and they said the sound provided
when reading aloud added greatly to their understanding of the poems.
The soft pencil illustrations by Eric Beddows are a rich compliment to Fleischman's
poetry. The pencil drawings are quite detailed and reflect a love of nature. There is at least one illustration
for each poem and the poem about whirligig beetles has them drawn all around the poem. The queen honeybee is drawn reclining
on a fainting couch to add a touch of humor.
Fleischman has written a unique collection of poetry to celebrate the lives of insects.
The poems, when read aloud, create their own rhythm that must be heard to appreciate fully. Children will be drawn into
the world of insects and will appreciate the detailed artwork of the illustrator.