Jack Prelutsky - About the Author
Nestled on a steep hillside and dwarfed by towering evergreens is the home of Jack and Carolynn Prelutsky. Lake breezes rustle through the trees. The setting is tranquil and serene, so it's easy to forget that it is just a few miles from the skyscrapers and jam-packed freeways of Seattle.
Guests are asked to leave their shoes at the door as they enter the Prelutsky home. If uncomfortable in stocking feet, they may wear a pair of slippers provided inside. This not only saves the beautiful wood floors and light-colored carpets in the home, but it also honors the cultural customs of Carolynn, a Korean-American.
The house is filled with art. There are paintings, drawings, sculptures, baubles, and trinkets. The mix of bright colors, sophisticated pieces, and whimsical figures make it seem like a wonderland. Everything comes together like a magical carousel. This must be what it would be like to live in one of Prelutsky's books. This is the perfect setting for Jack's studio, where he does most of his writing.
Jack loves books and has quite a collection. He has several thousand children's poetry books. Most are contemporary, but some are old and rare. Even more than books, Jack loves words. He likes to take words and make them into puzzles, riddles, palindromes, poems, etc.
Ask Jack where he gets his ideas and he answers, "Everywhere." Jack always has a notebook and two pens in his pocket to jot down ideas whether he is walking down the street, eating dinner in a Chinese restaurant, or taking in a ball game. Currently, his goal is to write one poem a day. He is working on as many as nine books at the same time.
Most authors have stories about how many rejection slips they received before finally being published. Jack's story is a little different. In the 1950s, Jack hung out in Greenwich Village with other budding artists and musicians. It was a very talented group, and included the likes of Bob Dylan. Jack has a great voice, and he considered a career in opera, though he wanted to try his hand at other arts as well . He never took drawing lessons, but he began to sketch every day during this time. Prelutsky soon became frustrated, because he couldn't make things look how he envisioned them. To solve this problem, he began to draw fantasy creatures, reasoning that there was no right or wrong way to draw things that didn't exist.
Looking at his collection of two-dozen drawings, which had taken Jack almost six months to complete, he decided that they needed poems to accompany them, and in about two hours, wrote verses for them all. A friend saw his portfolio of poems and drawings, and suggested that Jack submit them for publication. He showed his work to Susan Hirschman, then the editor-in-chief of the children's department at Macmillan Publishing. She told him frankly that his drawings weren't very good, but that he had a natural gift for humor and rhyme, and encouraged him to write more. In 1967, this resulted in the publication of his first book, A GOPHER IN THE GARDEN. Because Hirschmann was willing to take a chance and work with this young and unknown poet, the world of children's literature is a much richer place. Their career together has spanned decades and the list of titles they have created is long and impressive.
Jack continues to nurture the child within himself. Perhaps that's why children young and old love his poems. Poetry is the very essence of who Jack is and his work touches all of us. Thank you, Jack, for making the world a brighter place.