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The Study of Poetry and Literature for Children & Young Adults

Module 2: Poetry Book Review

By Jack Prelutsky
Prelutsky, Jack. 2002. Scranimals. Ill. by Peter Sis. USA: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688178197


Jack Prelutsky, acclaimed author of more than 30 children’s books and Peter Sis, two time Caldecott Honor artist unite once again (The Dragons Are Singing Tonight) in the creation of a hilarious adventure to a far off island of rare and magnificent beasts.


In the first poem two small children gleefully prepare to travel to Scranimal Island, prepared with a map, and using a skateboard powered by umbrella as their mode of transportation. Each subsequent double page spread features our young explorers visiting another specimen of the strange wildlife.


“Plying his trademark delicate line and crosshatching, Sis sets off the fantastic creatures against spare, expansive vistas, investing the muted ink-and-watercolor illustrations with a quizzically visionary style,” states Publishers Weekly.


Prelutsky’s verses are featured in his trademark singsong style and choice of unusual subjects. A perfect example is the…           


….Except for paltry feathers,

They’re mostly leafy green,

Their heads are smooth as leather,

Their brains are not too keen.


Most of the unusual animals (like the Spinachicken) are a combination of animal and flower or vegetable, though, a couple poems are a combination of animals. These are particularly amusing especially the


…a blur that rushes past

There is not a creature fleeter,


Though quick, it is far from cunning------

Its head goes in the sand.


School Library Journal book reviewer Nina Lindsay disagrees, “Though as eloquently described, they (cross of two animals, no plant matter involved) are not simply as funny as the Porcupineapple or the Avocadodos, and somehow spoil the fun. The point of nonsense, after all, is to stick to the rules-just, the wrong rules.”


Extremely helpful and fascinating to children is the labeled aerial view of the island on the inside cover, and the rebus style chart on the back cover showing the origins of the combinations of animals and plant. For example, Potato + Toad = Potatoad. Very useful for reading aloud are the  pronunciations at the bottom of each animal page so that these new species are pronounced correctly.


Gillian Engberg, book reviewer for Booklist recommends, “Read this aloud to small groups so that children can crowd up close and take in the jokes and the fantasy in the glorious images.”

Works Cited


Prelutsky, Jack. 2002. Scranimals. Ill. by Peter Sis. USA: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688178197


Engberg. Gillian. 2002. Scranimals. (book review). Booklist. September 15, 2002.


Lindsay, Nina 2002. Scranimals. (book review). School Library Journal. September 1, 2002.


Publishers Weekly. 2002. Scranimals. (book review). Publishers Weekly. June 24, 2002.


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