Jack Prelutsky



Biography

Although Jack Prelutsky is best known for his humorous and imaginative verse, his readers are now discovering how deeply music is entwined with his poetry. Currently, he is more likely to appear on a concert stage than in a library or bookstore.

While he has been making words rhyme for over forty-five years, his career began as a folk singer in coffeehouses and with uncertain aspirations of becoming an operatic tenor. By chance he took his first poems, descriptions of fanciful creatures, to Susan Hirschman, editor at Macmillan. Susan suggested that he write about real animals and with her encouragement, his first book, A Gopher in the Garden, was published in 1967.

Since then he has published over seventy books of poetry, including The New Kid on the Block; Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!;  The Dragons are Singing Tonight;  Awful Ogre's Awful Day;  Scranimals;  The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders;  If Not for the Cat;  What a Day it was at School!;  and  Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant.

In 2006, the Poetry Foundation designated Jack as the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate.

His latest books are:  I've Lost My Hippopotamus; The Carnival of the Animals; My Dog May Be a Genius; Pizza, Pigs & Poetry:  How to Write a Poem (Jack's first book of prose); and Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and Other Poems. In his role as anthologist, he has compiled several collections, beginning with The Random House Book of Poetry for Children; continuing with The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury; and most recently, Read A Rhyme, Write A Rhyme.

...More about the orchestral versions of The Carnival of the Animals and Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant:

When the Poetry Foundation named him as Children's Poet Laureate in 2006, Barbara Broderick of the San Diego Symphony initiated a project to give one of his books an orchestral interpretation. The Symphony commissioned composer Lucas Richman, Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, to transform Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant into a symphonic piece.

In 2009, the San Diego Symphony premiered Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, with him as narrator. Lucas's lively and engaging musical portraits of the book's odd creatures entranced audiences both young and old. Due to the success of this premiere, and with the overwhelming support of the Symphony's musicians and community, the San Diego Symphony decided to make the first recording of Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant.

The timely publication of his new verses to accompany Camille Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals provided the Symphony with a perfect pair of works to complete the programming. Carnival of the Animals is further enriched with delightful piano solos performed by Jon Kimura Parker and Orli Shaham. Released in 2011, the recording is available on CD from Naxos of America.

April 2012
Jack Prelutsky