Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Addle-pated Paddlepuss

There's something about knowing the story behind a poem which makes it even more fun to read.

I tend to choose poems which make me laugh, smile or are fun to read aloud. The Addle-pated Paddlepuss is no exception - and I think the back-story is quite interesting too.

Jack Prelutsky wrote an essay included in a book called The Art and Craft of Writing for Children, edited by William Zinsser. In his essay, he explained his inspiration behind this poem.
"Usually we're unaware that we are storing up images. Then one day, suddenly, a lot of things just come together. When I was a kid there was a television program called "You Asked for It." One of the things I saw on that show was a cat that played ping-pong. There was a man at one end of the table hitting the ball, and at the other end was a cat. The cat never missed. A few years ago I went to the University of Oregon, in Eugene, to give a talk, and they put me up with a local couple. The man's two interests seemed to be astronomy and ping-pong. He had a ping-pong table in the basement. We played, and he beat me 21-0. Then he said, "Now I'll play just half of your side of the table and I'll hit all my shots to either you forehand or your backhand - you choose which." And he beat me 21-3. Then he did the same using half the table and playing with his wallet and spotting me 16 points, and he still beat me easily.

Well, "You Asked for It" and the ping-pong-playing cat and this fellow in the basement in Eugene all came together, and I wrote the following poem..."

The Addle-pated Paddlepus
Jack Prelutsky

The Addle-pated Paddlepuss
is agile as a cat,
its neck is long and limber,
and its face is broad and flat,
it moves with skill and vigor,
with velocity and grace,
as it spends its every second
playing Ping-Pong with its face.

The Addle-pated Paddlepuss
prevails in every game,
its opponent doesn't matter,
the result is all the same,
with its supersonic smashes
and its convoluted spins,
it demolishes all comers
and invariably wins.


Beth said...

That is fun and interesting to know the background of a poem. Thank you for sharing the information about this one. And I love ping pong!

Kris Livovich said...

Jack Prelutsky has fun poems! The intro to the poem made it even better.