Want help selecting and sharing the best books of poetry for young people?

Want help selecting and sharing the best books of poetry for young people? Here are guides and trailers for the LBH award books.

Friday, April 29, 2011


This is a 2007 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant. New York: Greenwillow.

Here is a Digital Trailer for BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT created by graduate student Nicole Berg.

There are TWO Readers' Guides for this book presented below.

Here is a Readers' Guide for BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT created by graduate student Terri Nash.

Recommended age levels 6 and up

1. Summary of Book

BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT AND OTHER POEMS is a collection of seventeen poems all written by Jack Prelutsky which give the reader a feel for his exceptional style and voice. The topic of each poem is unique, deriving by crossing an everyday inanimate object with an animal or insect. For example, in the first poem, “Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant”, Prelutsky crosses an umbrella with an elephant. This one of a kind animal is special because no matter what the weather is like, hot or raining, the umbrellaphant is safe from the rain and heat because his trunk turns into an umbrella at the end. Most of the poems are depicted across a double-page spread with the newly produced animal-object illustrated through the use of collage. Children will enjoy Jack Prelutsky’s creativity as they look forward to being introduced to new items as each page is turned.

2. Review excerpts/awards for book

*New York Public Library’s “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”
*2007 Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award of the Washington State Book Awards
*2007 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book

*Publisher’s Weekly starred review; “Prelutsky's confident reading conveys the witty, matter-of-fact silliness that is the hallmark of his work.”

*School Library Journal starred review; “Prelutsky is one of the best word crafters in the business, and this collection does not disappoint.”

*Kirkus Reviews; “Pretty brilliant, indeed.”

3. Questions to ask before reading

Lead the children in a discussion using the following questions:

*What do you know about poetry?
What types of poems have you read before? Happy? Sad? Funny?
*Look at the cover of the book. Why do you think this elephant has an umbrella?
*What does “combine” mean? Read the title of the book. Discuss how the poet, Jack Prelutsky, is combining animals with objects. Take a picture walk through the book and ask children what they think is being combined on a few sample pages.
*Look at the illustrations. Who knows how they were made? Discuss the collage technique.

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

*Before reading each new title or poem, ask the children to guess what animal and object were combined based on the illustrations. Then have children predict what the name of the new object will be. Check and confirm predictions.

*Choose one or more poems to copy onto large chart paper. Before reading, mask (cover up) one or two words in the text. Children will guess the covered word using context clues. For example, in the poem “The Lynx of Chain”, cover the words resplendent and vanish. After reading each stanza, invite students to predict what word would make sense in the covered spot. Students could even identify what beginning letters would be seen for certain guesses. When ready, check predictions.

*If the budget allows, purchase the audio version of this book, read by Jack Prelutsky himself, which is lyrical and musical. Choose a favorite poem for students to learn. After listening to it, invite students to join in the reading/singing of the poem.

*While reading, invite the students to act out the poems. For example, while reading “The Circular Sawtoise”, students can slowly move around, yawning. When it’s time to “saw”, students can spin around as fast as they can. Then, as the sawing is done, they can go back to slowly moving around.

*Before showing children the illustrations read the poem and allow children the opportunity to draw what they think the new animal will look like. When ready, show the illustrations from the text and discuss similarities and differences.

5. Follow up activities (writing, art, science, etc.)

*Poetry Writing
Children can work in pairs to write their own combination poem. They will choose one animal and one inanimate object that were not used in the book. The poem must include a unique name for the object, one positive and one negative aspect of this new creation. When finished, compile all poems into a class book.


The illustrator, Carin Berger, used collage to create the illustrations in this text. After learning about collage techniques, either through the art teacher or the internet, students will create a collage of their own. They may choose to do an animal from the book or their own new creation. Invite students, parents, etc. to collect and donate any materials to use for a collage activity. Display final products as an art exhibit for other students to visit.

After researching various animals and their habitats, children will work in pairs to create a new animal and its habitat following the pattern in the book. Together, the class will create a rubric based on the specifications decided upon. Some possible suggestions could be: Where does your creature live? What does he eat? Who are his enemies? How does he transport? Partners will work together to create the animal, habitat and some type of display that includes all the questions/aspects of the rubric. When ready, students can present their new habitats to class.

*Language Arts
Students can work together to identify various parts of speech found in the poems. For example, students can make an adjective, noun or verb chart. 

6. Related web sites/blogs

*Jack Prelutsky’s web site

[Look here factual information about Jack Prelutsky and poems he has written.]

*Carin Berger

[Look here for an interview with illustrator Carin Berger.]

*Teaching Kids Poetry

[Look here for resources to use when teaching kids poetry such as ways to inspire students and fun poems to use.]

*Creating Rubrics
[Look here for help in creating a rubric.]

7. Related books (poetry, nonfiction, fiction)

*Other Poetry Books by Jack Prelutsky:

Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. Scranimals. Ill. by Peter Sis. Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0060753684

Prelutsky, Jack. 2009. What a Day it Was at School. Ill. by Doug Cushman. Greenwillow Books. ISBN 9780060823375

Prelutsky, Jack. 2005. It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles. Ill. by James Stevenson. Greenwillow Books. ISBN 9780060763909

*Nonfiction books about animal habitats:

Arnosky, Jim. 2000. Crinkleroots Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats. Aladdin. ISBN 0689835388

Moore, Jo Ellen. 1998. Habitats, Grades 1-3 (Science Works for Kids Series). Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. ISBN 1557996881 

Press, Judy. 2005. Animal Habitats! (Williamson Little Hands Series). Williamson Books. ISBN 9780824967567

*Fiction books using collage illustrations:
Carle, Eric. 1988. The Mixed-Up Chameleon. HarperCollins. ISBN 0064431622

Carle, Eric. 1994. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Hamilton Hamish. ISBN 0399226230

Lionni, Leo. 1973. Frederick. Dragonfly Books. ISBN 9780394826141

Here is a Readers' Guide for BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT created by graduate student Carol Fullerton.

Recommended grade levels Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

1. Summary of book

This book contains seventeen poems describing a combination of an animal and an inanimate object. The poems explain the purpose of the inanimate object in the animal’s behavior. Old-fashioned illustrations of the objects, print media and a variety of paper textures are used in clever collages.

2. Review excerpts/awards

Horn Book
New York Times
Publisher’s Weekly
School Library Journal

3. Questions to ask before reading

Invite the children to discuss the following:
What animal is on the front cover?
What’s at the end of the elephant’s trunk?
How did the author come up with the name umbrellaphant for this animal?
What did the illustrator use to create the collage of the umbrellaphant? You can use this technique for each poem, but it should definitely be used with “The Limber Bulboa.”

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

Read the first poem and discuss how the animal behaves because of the umbrella.
Have props to go along with reading of the poem, for example, an umbrellas, spatulas, clocks, zippers, toasters, tweezers, shoes, hats, eggbeaters, locks and keys, and thermometers.

5. Follow-up activities (art, writing, and science)

ART – Explain what a collage is. Have a variety of print media, paper, illustrations and pictures for children to create their own blend of animal and inanimate object. Each class can make a class book.

WRITING – Younger children can name their creation from the art assignment. Older children can name their creation and try writing a poem about it.

SCIENCE – Younger children can take pictures of live and inanimate objects and sort them. Older children can be placed in pairs to research the animal part of Prelutsky’s hybrid.

6. Related blogs and websites

Look here for the Bold Umbrellaphant goes to the Knoxville Symphony, more of Prelutsky’s poems and information about the author.

You can use this site for students to create new animals.

This site contains lessons plans and templates to connect paper collages to Henri Mattise.

7. Related books (poetry, nonfiction, fiction)

Poems illustrated with collages
Prelutsky, Jack. 2002. Scranimals: Poems. Ill. By Peter Sis. New York, New York. Greenwillow Books.
Carle, Eric. 1991. Eric Carle's dragons dragons & other creatures that never were. Ill. by Eric Carle. Tracings compiled by Laura Whipple. New York, New York. Philomel Books.
Worth, Valerie. 2007. Animal Poems. Ill.by Steven Jenkins. New York, New York. Farrar Straus Giroux.
Kumin, Maxine. 2006. Mites to mastodons: A book of animal poems. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston, Massachusetts. Houghton Mifflin.

Mythology books
Curlee, Lynn. 2008. Mythological creatures: A classical bestiary : tales of strange beings, fabulous creatures, fearsome beasts, & hideous monsters from Ancient Greek mythology. Ill. by Lynn Curlee. New York, New York. Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Harpur, James. 2009. Mythical Creatures. Ill. by Stuart Martin. Hauppauge, New York. Barron’s.
MacDonald, Fiona. 2011. Murderous mythical creatures you wouldn't want to meet!. Ill. by David Antram. New York, New York. Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Fiction books
McKee, David. 2009. Elmer’s Special Day. Ill. by David McKee. Cincinnati, Ohio. Andersen Press USA.
Seuss, Dr. 1982. Horton Hears a Who. Ill. by Dr. Seuss. New York, New York. Random House Publishing.
Brunhoff, Laurent de. 2003. Babar’s Museum of Art: (Closed Mondays). New York, New York. H. N. Abrams.

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