Until recently I had never encountered concrete or shape poems. No, these are not poems carved in cement. Instead they are "poems in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text."
What on earth does this all mean you are thinking. Well, concrete poems are poems where the words are placed on the page to create an image or picture. Thus, a poem about a tree might be arranged to have a tree shape, or a poem about a snake may have a snake shape.
Today's poetry title is full of poems about dogs, and readers will not only enjoy the sounds and meanings of the words, but they will also enjoy the ways in which those words appear on the page.
Illustrations by Michael Wertz
For ages 8 to 12
Tricycle Press, 2011, 978-1-58246-343-8
Dogs provide love and companionship to millions of people around the world. They greet us when we come home, and somehow they know just what to do to cheer us up when we are feeling blue. In this unique book, Betsy Franco’s poems are paired with Michael Wertz’s artwork in such a way that the words and the art become one, and they give dog lovers of all ages a delightful canine-centric treat.
As they turn the pages, readers will meet Baloo, a pompom-ish poodle who manages to get out of his yard and who gets into Ms. Johnstons’ house, were he eats all kinds of things, including a teddy bear, a cupcake, a steak, a taco, and some popcorn.
Further on in the book, we get to meet Willy, a beagle who lives behind a fence that has a “Beware of Dog” sign on it. The funny thing is that Willy “rarely ever growls.” Instead, the “harmless beagle only yooooowls!”
Jake is quite different because he barks at everyone. He may be small, but this jack russell terrier “hasn’t been frightened by any dog yet.” Fearlessly he barks at friend and foe alike because he is a “barking machine.”
Then there is Gwen the bassett hound. Gwen is always going in and out the door, and her person faithfully opens and closes the door for her “again and again and again.”
This book will charm people who have dogs in their lives. Many of the doggy traits mentioned in the book will be familiar, and readers will be reminded of all the charming, infuriating, and funny things that dogs do that make our lives richer.