Arthur and the Poetry Contest
Arthur and the Poetry Contest
Author Marc Brown
Stephen Krensky
Publication date December 1, 1999
Published by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
ISBN 0316122955
Publication Order
Preceded by
Muffy's Secret Admirer
Followed by
Buster Baxter, Cat Saver

Arthur and the Poetry Contest is the eighteenth Arthur chapter book, based on the Season 1 episode "I'm a Poet."


Mr. Ratburn announces the library poetry contest, and that Fern is the only one who has signed up. The other kids think poetry is lame, and Mr. Ratburn reminds them of the Illiad, a famous Greek poem. When Rattles and Binky mock Fern, she says that they could not write poems. When the students start arguing that they could write poetry, Fern says that they have to enter the poetry contest, and if they do not, they have to join the poetry club for an entire year.

Arthur and Buster are worried about going to poetry club, so they decide to read poems and copy ones they like. They ask Ms. Turner where the "good" poems are, and that they want to read poems they can understand, and would prefer older ones (so the poets can't get mad at them for copying if they're dead). After reading a few, Buster says that he is ready, but Arthur is not.

At school, Arthur comes up with excuses as to why he has not written a poem yet. Brain and Muffy read their poems. In his room, Arthur is struggling to think of a good rhyme until D.W. tells him about a news broadcast of a gorilla named Joey who was taken away from the jungle and has escaped from the zoo. He climbed up a building, and Arthur thinks Joey is scared and wants to return to the jungle. D.W. recites a poem about Arthur's feet smelling, which he does not find funny. Arthur calls Buster and asks him for help.

In the morning, Arthur's parents discuss the news about Joey. Arthur goes to school and learns that Buster has not finished his poem after all, and Fern is disappointed in what he has so far. Arthur gives Fern his poem, and she tells him to not copy other poems and create an original one.

At the poetry contest, Jack Prelutsky reads "Today is Very Boring," as the kids imagine the ironically exciting events occurring in the poem. Fern reads her poem, which the audience enjoys, and Francine goes next with "Hockey Puck Headache." Binky then reads his very simple poem, "Binky's Poem." Fern wonders where Arthur is.

D.W. tells Arthur that Joey has been captured. Arthur rushes to the library as Buster reads a poem about nauseating things. When Arthur arrives, he reads his poem, "Joey Goes to the City." Jack Prelutsky announces that everyone wins the contest, and the kids realize they had so much fun that they willingly join the poetry club. The book ends with Prelutsky reading "Jellyfish Stew."

Differences between the book and the episode

  • In the episode, Arthur reads "My Sister is a Sissy" in the opening. In the book, he recites it in class.
  • In the book, Francine saying "moon, June, spoon, tune, a loon" is followed by Arthur asking, "Will you be done soon?" She responds, "Before noon."
  • In the episode, Fern says that Binky couldn't write a poem even if he tried. In the book, she says he couldn't if his life depended on it.
  • Buster says that going to Poetry Club could be "a fate worse than death."
  • Arthur and Buster talk to Ms. Turner before reading poems in the library.
  • Arthur says that "Paul Revere's Ride" has "a good beat" that sounds like a horse galloping.
  • Arthur's poem is inspired by a news broadcast in the book, while he comes up with it on his own in the episode.
  • In the book, Arthur meets to discuss his poem with Fern at school. In the episode, he visits Fern's house.
  • The scene where Buster falls from the tree into Arthur's lap is changed to him landing next to Arthur.
  • In the book, two lines in Arthur's poem are changed. Additionally, Jimmy is renamed Joey.
    • "Jimmy made a daring escape" is changed to "So Joey decided to make a daring escape."
    • "The city's okay for a visit, but you couldn't make me live there" is changed to "The city's okay for a visit, but you wouldn't want to live there."
  • In the book, Jack Prelutsky says "You know what? I hate singling out one winner when everyone did such a terrific job. In my opinion, you all win!" In the episode, he says "I hate contests. You all won."



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