Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Dazzling Display of Dogs, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz. Tricycle Press, Random House. 2011. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"Bert the Mutt's a tough old guy.
He's had a long career.
Scars on his nose.
Missing claws.
Nicks on one of his ears.
Balding spot on one back leg.
No whiskers on the right.
He struts around
like he owns the park,
and he's earned it
with every fight."

Pages filled to the brim with concrete poems about dogs, dogs, dogs! It is a most welcome companion book to Betsy Franco's earlier A Curious Collection of Cats (Tricycle, 2009). As happens with concrete poems, it is the collaboration of word and art that makes each one work. And work they do! Each new page offers a single poem and 'a dazzling display' of art and poetry. The vivid colors change, the poetic form changes and we meet an abundance of delightful dogs whose personalities shine through for us.

There's Baloo the poodle whose escape is sure to lead to a 'bellyful' of whatever food he can find in his bid for freedom. Poor Al...he's a retired greyhound who just can't seem to lose his habit of running on an oval track, even at the beach where he could run back and forth forever. Or Old Lottie whose walk takes her around the block and that's it...though she encounters much along the way, she is only too happy to be right back home and resting her old bones. Poor Waffle always has her ears in the air to hear the constant commands coming her way. Cassandra is not such a lady in the car when her gas makes it impossible for the family to enjoy the ride. Old Jimbo who finds a way to ensure that the chair he loves is his for the taking:

"The chair with the ruffly trim
was always off limits to Jim,
Till he chewed
it to bits,
made it threadbare
with slits -
now no one sits
on it but him."

That peppy rhyme finds its shape in the form of an easy chair! I love the way concrete poetry affords the head a real workout, as the reader works to follow the words as they are placed so carefully on the page. Betsy Franco knows dogs, and uses a humorous voice to share their foibles in each of the thirty-two poems. It won't take long for readers to choose their favorites.

The copyright information says that 'the illustrations were started in pencil and finished using monoprints and Adobe Photoshop. I don't know how that process works; Michael Wertz obviously does. His love of dogs and their very unique temperaments is evident on every colorful, fun-filled page.

Have I got you thinking about Christmas gifts yet? What a welcome gift for a pet-loving child this two volume set would be!

No comments:

Post a Comment