Franco, Betsy. 2011. A DAZZLING DISPLAY OF DOGS. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Berkeley: Tricycle Press. ISBN 978582463438.
A collection of thirty-four fun, concrete poems for dog lovers of all ages. A wide assortment of canine companions, from Pugs and Jack Russell Terriers, to Rottweilers and mutts, give us a glimpse into their furry lives. Through the bright, visual illustrations and the variety of poetry styles, Franco and Wertz truly show throughout the book just why dogs deserve the title of Man’s / Woman’s / Child’s Best Friend.
The award winning team who wrote A Curious Collection of Cats now bring their talents to the world of dogs in this delightful collection of poems, depicting various aspects of a dog’s life. Betsy Franco uses various forms of poetry throughout the book including haiku, rhyming, and free verse, to capture the fun and frivolity pets can bring to a child’s life. Michael Wertz’s bright, bold illustrations are a colorful complement to the poems.
Children will delight in the joy of bringing home a new dog in the poem Found at the Pound, “She trotted out, came straight to me, became a part of my family.” Emmett’s Ode to his Tennis Ball is an excellent way for teachers to introduce the style of concrete poems used throughout the book. Wertz’s lively illustration shows the profile of a smiling dog, with a ball hanging from his slobbering mouth. The ball is not drawn as a part of the illustration, rather it is formed from the poem’s words . Any canine companion will appreciate Franco’s rhyming alliteration that begins this poem, “Slobbery, sloppy, slimy sphere – Oh tennis ball, I hold you dear.”
Wertz’s whimsical and whacky illustrations convey the playful nature of the poems and subject matter. He uses vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, blue, and green in the monoprint collages throughout the book. As a bold font weaves the poems in, out, and around the illustrations, Wertz invites readers to explore the story of each and every dog.
The language used throughout the book will work well in reading the poems aloud. It will be helpful to share the illustrations side by side with one or two children, or using a document camera with a group of listeners, so they can appreciate the intricacies of the illustrations and words together. However it is shared, this book will delight dog lovers young and old, and is sure result in giggles and more slobbery stories to be told.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “The verses and the book’s design are beautifully matched. Overall, a delight for kids, their adults, and maybe even their beloved canine companions.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY review: “Franco and Wertz persuasively convey canine behavior, from devoted companion to inner wolf, as well as the trials and treasured moments familiar to many owners. Dog lovers won’t want to miss this clever, jubilant gem.”
- Invite students to work in small groups, or pairs to practice and recite, in two voices, one of the poems: Tigger on his Back, Tigger on his Belly; The Words Waffle Hears; or Letting Gwen In and Out.
- Use this book and Franco’s other book, A Curious Collection of Cats, to launch a poetry unit during National Poetry Month in April. Read a poem from one the books each day, teaching the various types of poetry – haiku, rhymed poems, and free verse. Then have children create their own concrete poem about a dog or other pet. Copy and bind all the poems for the class at the end of the month, display a copy in the school library.
- Encourage students to write a poem in the voice of their favorite pet, or stuffed animal, and share it with class.
- Have student memorize their favorite poem in the book and recite it for the class.
- For an art lesson connection, have children copy and illustrate a favorite poem from the book as a mobile or poster.
Image from Barnes & Noble