Lively rock-star-author-poet Jack Prelutsky delights Lakeridge students

For elementary school-aged children he is a celebrity, a rock-star and their favorite poet all rolled into one. With his songs about rats for lunch and animals fused with vegetables, Jack Prelutsky is a guaranteed hit, especially in person. During an assembly at Lakeridge Elementary last week, the longtime poet and former Island resident sang, signed books and delighted kids and adults alike.

“This is my swan song,” he said following the school assembly. “I need more time these days to do what I want to.” The writer, who turns 70 this year, said he used to travel across the country doing readings and meeting with children, but these days he has slowed down, at least on school visits. He is still working on several other projects, including a book on birds, another funny animal book, adding songs to a new CD which will be out this fall, and other things that catch his interest along the way.

The author of more than 70 poetry collections and the inaugural winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award in 2006, Prelutsky has been writing for over 30 years and spent 10 years living on the Island, which in a roundabout way is how he came to be at Lakeridge last Tuesday.

When Jack and his wife, Carolynn, sold their Mercer Island house to Gerry Kaelin and his wife, Tina Demopulos, the two families became friends, especially since the Kaelins had two young boys who became big fans of Prelutsky’s work.

“We just became good friends with them, and we asked if they would do it,” said Kaelin of the school visit. His sons Andrew, second grade, and Alexander, fourth grade, along with the rest of the school, rejoiced during the assembly at the visit.

“He’s done over a 1,000 of these, but he doesn’t do them anymore, so we’re really lucky,” said Kaelin. “His poetry is just fabulous, and the boys love it.”

Prelutsky said a favorite poem that he usually reads during visits is the “Homework” poem.

Lakeridge librarian DiDi Kearsley said she loves to have authors come and visit, but it’s a rarity at the school these days.

“I always love to have authors come, but we don’t get as many as I’d like. It’s such a wonderful, rare treat,” she said.

Prior to the event, Island Books offered a special deal with a percentage of the proceeds from Prelutsky’s books going to the Lakeridge PTA, which often helps bring authors to the school.

“They are just very kind, giving people,” said Kaelin of the Prelutskys. He said the couple visited free of charge. “It was very generous of them. It was very special.”

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