I’ll tell you of a man I knew
who claimed he came from Timbuktu.
He said, “I have the world to see!”
So off he went to Timbukthree.
Then Timbukfour and Timbukfive
were where he seemed to come alive.
He went to Timbuksix and -seven,
and Timbukeight, -nine, -ten, -eleven.
Then Timbuktwelve and -thirteen too,
he liked them more than Timbuktu.
The last I heard, he’s doing fine.
He lives in Timbukninetynine.
So, kids, if all you ever do
is take a trip to Timbuktu,
at least you’ll have a lot more fun
than staying home in Timbukone.
But if you have the world to see…
continue on to Timbukthree.
I ran for the Chapstick mom keeps in her purse.
My lips were so chapped that they couldn’t feel worse!
I dug through her handbag and pulled it out quickly,
then sighed in relief as I smeared it on thickly.
I felt so much better I almost rejoiced.
My painful, dry lips were now mended and moist.
My dad burst out laughing. My mom looked amused.
Her Chapstick was lost. That was lipstick I’d used.
Kids often want to know what the first poem I ever wrote was, so here it is. This poem was inspired by Shel Silvertstein’s poem Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout and by the daughter of a friend of mine. Her name was Amber, and she was four years old at the time I wrote this poem. After seeing her play with her food instead of eating, and because of Shel Silverstein’s poem, I thought to write a poem about a little girl who wouldn’t eat her dinner. This poem then led to me writing more and more poems, and eventually creating this website and publishing children’s books.
Scrawny Tawny Skinner
Scrawny little Tawny Skinner
could not, would not, eat her dinner.
Though her parents begged and pleaded,
Tawny would not sit and eat it.
They tried forcing, they tried coaxing;
Tawny said “I feel like chokesing!
I’m so full, my stomach hurts.
I think I should eat dessert!”
She would not eat lima beans;
she would not eat spinach greens.
She would not eat baby peas;
she would not eat cottage cheese.
Pushing food around her plate,
she said, “Look how much I ate!”
But no scrap of food got in her,
Tawny would not eat her dinner.
She would not eat mashed potatoes,
Brussels sprouts or sliced tomatoes.
She would not eat chicken legs,
hot roast beef or deviled eggs.
Tawny closed her mouth up tight,
and would not eat a single bite.
Every minute she grew thinner,
Scrawny little Tawny Skinner.
She would not eat pizza pie;
no baked beans, not one french fry.
Though she was quite thin and bony,
she would not eat macaroni!
What came next, I hate to repeat,
could happen to you if you don’t eat.
Just what all her family feared–
she grew so thin she disappeared.
And though she was hungry an hour later,
they could not find her to reinflate her.
So next time you don’t want your dinner
think of scrawny Tawny Skinner.
There is some serious madness going on this month at ThinkKidThink.com. Ed DeCaria has masterminded a tournament involving 64 writers who are going head-to-head in a children’s poetry showdown. Over the next few weeks there will be several rounds of competitions that include well-known children’s poets as well as relative newcomers, all battling to see who will ultimately be crowned the champ.
So who’s the judge? You are! That’s right. Voting is open to the public. All you have to do is read each pair of poems and decide which one you like best. The poets with the most votes move on the next round and the madness continues until there is only one poet left standing.
Jack Prelutsky is the author of many, many colletions of poetry for children. His new book, I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus comes out today. I had a chance to speak with Jack about his career and his new book recently, and you can listen to that interview here.