Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Curious Collection of Cats, A Dazzling Display of Dogs

A Curious Collection of Cats
A Curious Collection of Cats,
A Dazzling Display of Dogs
Concrete Poems by Betsy Franco
illustrations by Michael Wertz

Concrete Poems are a favorite at home - some are ingenious, some are a bit sketchy, some are hard to read and comprehend, while some are subtly funny. The words in this poetic form are carefully arranged on the page to convey the subject of the poem. The interplay of textual and graphic elements challenges the reading experience.

A favorite book of concrete poems is A Poke in the I by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrations by Chris Raschka. Another favorite in this series by the duo is A Kick in the Head which is a fantastic introduction to poetic forms. The last in the series, A Foot in the Mouth, is a collection of fun read-aloud poems. One of my favorites is "Tennis, anyone?"  where the words are arranged to go back and forth between the courts, as Raschka shares in the mini documentary.

Recently, I came across A Curious Collection of Cats at the library and had to bring it home for the kids. Cohabiting with distinctly individual felines from their infancy, both the 9- and 6- year old are familiar with cat-antics and enjoyed quite a few of the poems in their own way - "Lenny vs. Patch", "Q-tip and Rosie", "Veronica goes Wide"... My favorites were "Bingo's Birthday Party", "Techno Cat" and "Cat Door" - clever and deceptively simple!

text copyright 2009 Betsy Franco
illustration copyright 2009 Michael Wertz

A Dazzling Display of Dogs, Concrete Poems by Betsy FrancoAlso by the same team, A Dazzling Display of Dogs, is a collection of concrete poems about dogs. It was the monthly book pick for August 2013 by the Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt, featuring an interview with the author/poet Betsy Franco.

Every dog has a favorite ball to play fetch - partly chewed, covered in saliva, possibly muddy (but who cares?). "Emmett's Ode to His Tennis Ball," shows the text enclosed in a tight circle held firmly in the dog's mouth. It begins, "Slobbery, sloppy, slimy, sphere—oh, tennis ball, I hold you dear" which will instantly bring a smile of recognition.

A haiku about a pup peeing on the newspaper, a dog with a white medical collar, a garbage-eater... the book showcases many quirks that dog-lovers will easily identify with.

Typically, concrete poetry books tend to be a collection of poems on various topics, but, these two books are each on a dedicated topic that is sure to entertain and engage the young pet lovers.

[ has a lovely portfolio of the illustrator's art work]

[image source:,]

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