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Deidre's Book Reviews

Ride a Purple Pelican
True Believer
The Tale of Despereaux
The Giver
The First Part Last
A Single Shard
How Angel Peterson Got His Name
SHAKA: King of the Zulus
The Gold Cadillac
Freedman's Voice that Challenged A Nation
Messages in the Mailbox
Seymour's Stars
Author Study: Joyce Carol Thomas
My Favorite Joyce Carol Thomas Books
Suggested Response Activity
Review of Thomas's Hush Songs
Review of Thomas's Gingerbread Days
Ride a Purple Pelican
My Momma Likes to Say
My Man Blue
Beast Feast
The Stinky Cheese Man
Once Upon A Time
My Friend Rabbit
Caring for Your Pets
Two Bad Ants

Prelutsky, Jack. 1986. RIDE A PURPLE PELICAN. Ill. By Garth

               Williams. New York:Greenwillow Books.

                ISBN: 0-688-04031-4.



Ride a Purple Pelican is a collection of twenty eight nursery rhymes, such as, “Justin Austin,”  “Grandma Bear,” “Johnny had a Black Horse,” “Naughty Little Brown Mouse,” and “Poor Potatoes.”  The poems are short and rhythmic enough for children songs and chants.  There is a constant use of alliteration throughout the book that adds to the poems – making them very humorous.  The lovable characters in the poems travel all around the world to places like Nova Scotia to Toronto to California, through Delaware to Saskatchewan.   Each short nursery rhyme tells of a new adventure, keeping the reader anxious to find out what each character experiences.


Even though no real sense can be made of most of the rhymes, they are still fun to read.  It is almost as if the rhymes are some form of tall tales (offering so much exaggeration).  Obviously, the events mentioned do not really happen.  For example, “Late One Night” describes how various animals like baboons, a donkey, and a monkey are engaged in several activities; having a barbecue, catching falling stars, strumming a guitar.  No, the animals cannot really do these things but to even imagine them happening is hilarious.  Which is another reason why this is a great children’s book.


Quite a few of the rhymes are tongue twisters and are somewhat difficult to read without stumbling over the words.  “Rumpitty Tumpitty” is one that you have no choice but to read in an up temp.  The rhythm of the poem is very catchy.  If you read it slower, it does not have the same effect.  “Jilliky Jolliky Jelliky Jee” is another example that continues to get the reader all tongue-tied.  The repetition in the book adds to the adventurous tone provided.  In the rhyme, “One day in Oklahoma,” the same phrase, “one day in Oklahoma on a dusty country road,” is repeated at the beginning and the end.


Interestingly enough, Prelutsky does not show the title of each poem (other than on the Table of Contents page) at the top of each page.  Each poem’s title is the very beginning of the poem.  Rudy rode a unicorn, for example, is the first set of words in the poem, “Rudy rode a Unicorn.”  This may take the reader by surprise since most poems in poetry and nursery rhyme books are individually titled.


The illustrator has helped the author create a nursery fairy land with unbelievable characters who travel all over the world, doing amazing things like finding golden eggs and waltzing with avocado cats.  Each rhyme is accompanied by a very descriptive illustration.


The illustrations are full of color and movement.  They help set the mood and add definition to the characters exhibited within the poems.  It is easier to imagine the situations and events in the poems by looking at the pictures – which offer so much humor.  Ride a Purple Pelican can be used as a tool to help teach children about poetry, geography, rhythms, writing styles, and art.


Last updated: February 19, 2005

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