Poetry Friday: The Wizard

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I’ve read as many negative reviews as positive ones for Jack Prelutsky’s The Wizard. Too commercial, an insult to Wiccans everywhere, not as memorable as many of Prelutsky’s poems …

Dare I say it … I like this book? Sure, I think that it’s really Brandon Dorman’s outstanding illustrations that make this work. They are gorgeous – somehow lush and clean-looking all at once, the detail and the light effects on every page sweep you into the wizard’s world. You cannot help but want to slow down and pore over this book – and that’s quite something given how little text there is. Dorman’s pictures bring out the best in Prelutsky’s poem, which is, I confess, not the finest example of his poetic prowess.

I can see that this book will work beautifully as a read aloud in a poetry unit with young to middle elementary students. It seems perfect for a lesson in visualization. I’d like to read it to my class without showing them the pictures and then get them to draw what they imagine before revealing the illustrations. Here’s the opening:

The wizard, watchful, waits alone
within his tower of cold gray stone
and ponders in his wicked way
what evil deeds he’ll do this day.

He’s tall and thin, with wrinkled skin,
a tangled beard hangs from his chin,
his cheeks are gaunt, his eyes set deep,
he scarcely eats, he needs no sleep…

I think you could probably manage a whole poetry unit on a magical theme with this book as a launch. That could be one way to make poetry a tad more palatable to the masses. I am reminded of another wizard-themed poem that I love (it’s a list poem): Ian McMillan’s Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket. You can hear an adorable primary student from Devon reading this poem here.

So go buy or borrow this shiny, slightly-spooky gem for any budding poet/magician. It’s too much of a visual stunner to miss.

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