Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry

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Have you ever tried to write a poem about a pizza? How about a pig? How about a pigeon, penguin, potato, Ping-Pong, parrot, puppy, pelican, porcupine, pie, pachyderm, or your parents?

Jack Prelutsky has written more than one thousand poems about all of these things—and many others. In this book he gives you the inside scoop on writing poetry and shows you how you can turn your own experiences and stories about your family, your pets, and your friends into poems. He offers tips, advice, and secrets about writing and provides some fun exercises to help you get started (or unstuck). You'll also get a behind-the-scenes look at the ingredients of some of his most popular poems. If you are a poet, want to be a poet, or if you have to write a poem for homework and you just need some help, then this is the book for you!

Curriculet Details
55 Questions
62 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 4th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining textual connections, author's purpose and monitoring comprehension . It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about literary devices and grammar. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of citing textual evidence, inference, and figurative language. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Introduction: Hello

This story is written from first-person point of view. The first-person point of view is used primarily for autobiographical writing, such as a personal essay or a memoir.  

My Father’s Underwear

Based on this detail, what can you infer about Jack Prelutsky? 
An autobiography is a written account of a person's life written by that person. In this book, Jack shares helpful tips on how to write poetry as well as accounts about his life, his experiences, that led to ideas for many of his poems. 
Which of the following words rhyme in this stanza? 
Internal rhyme is a poetic device defined as metrical lines in which its middle words and its end words rhyme with each other. It is also called middle rhyme, since it comes in the middle of lines. In this line, "gum" and "thumb" rhyme. Look for more examples of internal rhyme in this poem. 
As you read this poem, you should have noticed the rhyming words. Watch the video to learn more about rhyming in poetry.  (This annotation contains a video)

My Mother’s Rules

What "other things" can you infer Jack discovered about food? 
Which word does 'horrible, smelly, sticky red' describe? 
Adjectives describe nouns. Look at the highlighted words. These words are used to describe a noun. Watch the video to learn more about adjectives.  (This annotation contains a video)
Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more objects, people, or places. Using the superlative form takes a comparison to the highest degree possible. 
Why does Jack say his favorite foods to play with are meatballs and spaghetti?  
Below is a picture of the Yankee Stadium.  (This annotation contains an image)
Pay attention to the rhyme scheme as you read the poem. Remember, rhyming words do not have to look the same, they only have to sound the same at the end of the word. 
What is the most likely reason the author writes in all caps and ends with an exclamation mark? 
Exaggerate means ' to overstate or to describe more than is fact.' Why is exaggeration important in writing poetry? 
Which of the following adjective describes the mold? 

Writing Tip #2

Based on the context of the text, what can you infer "quirks" means? Go to and look up the word. (This annotation contains a link)

My Baby Brother

Why does Jack write about his little brother often? 
Make Connections: Have you ever felt this way about one of your siblings? 
Can you name the rhyme pattern in this poem? 

Writing Tip #3

Why do you think Jack believes his poem would have been worse if he'd made it longer? Do you think he would have added a lot of unnecessary words just to make it longer? 
According to Jack, it is alright to write numerous poems on the same subject as long as ____________________. 

Performing Bananas and Flying Hot Dogs

Where does Jack write ideas that may eventually become poems? 
Jack says that ideas for poems are unpredictable. What does 'unpredictable' mean? 
Watch the video and then answer the question below.  (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text is an example of a _____________. 
A pun is a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings. 
"We're Fearless Flying Hot Dogs" is most likely one of Jack's favorite poems because ______________. 
Parallelism (or parallel structure) is the use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter. In this example, 'to climb, to dip, to dive' is parallel because "to" is followed by a verb. 
Which adjective is used to describe the flying hot dogs? 

Writing Tip #4

How important do you think 'rewriting' is in regard to poetry writing?  
You can also find a thesaurus online at Check it out! (This annotation contains a link)
A rhyming dictionary provides lists of words that _______________________. 

More Bananas

Why does Jack take out his notebook when he gets the idea of building a bridge out of bananas? 
Can you think of a literary device author's use in which a number of words, having the same beginning consonant sound, occur close together in a series? 

Writing Tip #5

Imagery helps the reader paint a picture of what is being read. How does imagery help you visualize the waggling, sagging, wobbling, and drooping of the banana bridge?  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the ingredients listed in the poem, what can you infer "they" will make with their bananas? 

My Teddy Bear

Where does Jack get an idea for a teddy bear poem? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
Make Connections: Have you ever had a favorite stuffed animal or toy go missing? How did you feel? 
What are some things kids have done to their teddy bear? 
What do you expect will happen to the teddy bear? 

Writing Tip #6

Why is it important to be aware of what is going on around you? 
Where does Jack get the idea for his poem My Brother Shaved His Teddy Bear? 
Quiz 1 

Meat Loaf and Turkey

What problem does being absentminded cause for Jack's mother? 
Based on the construction of the word "absentminded," what do you think the word means? 
"Harder" is a comparative adjective. Comparative adjectives compare two things. The comparative ending (suffix) for short, common adjectives is generally "-er." For longer adjectives, the comparative is made by adding the word "more" (For example, more comfortable).  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the result of their attempts to cut the meat loaf? 

Writing Tip #7

How does this detail reveal Jack's use of exaggeration in his writing? 
Do you think this would be easy to do? 

An Awful, Awful Meal

Why are most of the restaurants in the town closed? 
"Poring" is a multiple meaning word. This form of "poring" means 'to study meticulously; to go over again and again." 
The highlighted text is an example of _________________. 
Based on the details in the text, what can you infer about the restaurant?  
What physical effect does Gussie's food have on people? 

There’s Something About Pigs

Why does Jack continue to write about pigs? 
Can you identify the rhyme scheme in this pig poem? If you said ABAB, you are correct. 
What is a pun? 
What do you think? Does it work better? 

Writing Tip #9

According to Jack, you can never __________________. 
What would happen if Jack did not continue to write down new facts and ideas about pigs?  

The Bogeyman

How does Jack's mother get him to come inside for supper? 
Why does Jack obey his mother when she mentions the bogeyman? Do you think he is afraid of the bogeyman? 

Writing Tip #10

What is one good thing about writing poetry? 
Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep by Jack Prelutsky  (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the adjectives that are used to describe the place. Does it sound like a place you would like to be? 

It Doesn’t Have to Rhyme

When is a good time to use a haiku? 
A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often haikus focus on images from nature. 
Count the syllables in each line and see if they follow the traditional 5/7/5 pattern. 

Written in Concrete

Make Connections: Have you ever felt like Jack, not believing you can do something just because you have never tried it? Did you have anyone to encourage you to give it a try? 
What event gives Jack the idea for his circle poem? 
Jack has also written a poem in the shape of a ________________. 
Could you figure out how to read the circle poem? Go back to the previous page and read the poem again. Begin on the left hand side of the circle with the words " I was." Then, read the poem clockwise until you get back to where you started. Notice how the last line of the poem flows right into the first line again. The poem never ends. 

Writing Tip #12

Which of the following is NOT important when writing a concrete poem? 
Concrete poetry—sometimes called ‘shape poetry’—is poetry whose visual appearance matches the topic of the poem. The words form shapes which illustrate the poem’s subject as a picture, as well as through their literal meaning. This type of poetry has been used for thousands of years, since the ancient Greeks began to enhance the meanings of their poetry by arranging the characters in visually appealing ways.  (This annotation contains an image)

Worms and Worse

Explain the "agreement" Willie and Jack have with one another. Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
What do you infer Willie means by "dat looks good?" 

Writing Tip #13

What is the difference between a reporter and a creative writer? 
Can you think of a gross experience that happened to you or someone you know? If so, write down some ideas about how the experience could lead to a poem. 
"Slurp" and "slupp" are examples of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is defined as a word, which imitates the natural sound of a thing. It creates a sound effect that mimics the thing being described, making the description more expressive and interesting. Watch the video to learn more about onomatopoeia.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Jack leave the restaurant in a hurry? 
How do most of Jack's ideas for poems come to him? Notice how he uses his experiences to create his poems. You can do that too. 
The repetition of the "s" sound at the beginning of each word is an example of _______________. 
Repetition is a literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea more clear. There are several types of repetitions commonly used in both prose and poetry. How often is this stanza repeated in the poem? 
What is the rhyme pattern in this stanza? 

Writing Tip #14

Watch the video to learn about different types of irony authors use in their writing.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 2 

My Mother’s Singing

Which of the following is true of Jack's mother? 

Writing Tip #15

Why is it good to start with more ideas than you may need for your writing? 

The Sounds of Words

Where can you find the poem "Don't Ever Seize a Weasel by the Tail?" 
Notice how Jack chooses to use the rhyme pattern. He rhymes the last word of the first stanza with the last word of the second stanza. Therefore, the rhyme pattern is AAB CCB. 

Writing Tip #16

When writing a poem like "Don't Ever Squeeze a Weasel by the Tail," which of the following plays an important role in making the poem work? 
Watch the video of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and notice the rhyming words.  (This annotation contains a video)

A Boneless Chicken

What is meant by saying the "lightbulb went on in my head?" 
A ballad is a long song or poem that tells a story. 

Writing Tip #17

What is Jack's advice for writing a nonsense poem? 
Point of view is the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion, or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation. In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay. 

A Pizza the Size of the Sun

How does Jack's mood change on the plane? What causes the change in his mood? 
What can you infer is the reason Jack decides to write a poem about pizza? 

Writing Tip #18

What does poetic license mean? 
How important is poetic license to Jack? How do you know? 

Would You Mind Repeating That?

Watch this quick video about meter in poetry.  (This annotation contains a video)
Unstressed syllables are read softer and quieter than stressed syllables. Stressed syllables are read with more emphasis and power. 
The highlighted text represents the yak's ________________. 
Watch the video to learn more about rhythm in poetry.  (This annotation contains a video)
The repetition of beginning sounds in this text is an example of ________________. 
Notice how Jack uses repetition in this poem. He repeats the same words in the first and last lines of each stanza. 

Writing Tip #19

When should you NOT repeat a line in a poem? 
How will you know if repetition of repeated lines is needed in your poem? 

Begin at the End

Based on this detail, what can you infer about Jack's approach to writing poems? 
Can you identify the pun in this poem? 

Writing Tip #20

Why was writing Uncle Bungle easier than writing the wolf poem? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
What effect can puns have in poetry? 

Poemstarts to Get You Started

What is the purpose of this chapter? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
These "poemstarts" are here to give you a jumpstart on writing your own poem. Use these and add your own creative ideas to create a poem. 
Which word does Jack use to describe the creative process of writing poetry? 
Try this exercise. It works for Jack, so it may just work for you too. 
Quiz 3 


These definitions are located throughout the book, therefore you have already read them. However, there are more examples of Jack's poems located throughout the glossary. Don't forget to keep reading to the end of the book until you get to the section about the author, Jack Prelutsky. 

About the Author

Go to to learn more about him. (This annotation contains a link)