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A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco
Franco, Betsy. A Curious Collection of Cats. 2009. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Berkeley, California: Tricycle Press. ISBN-13: 978-1-58246-248-6 & ISBN-10: 1-58246-248-8
b. PLOT SUMMARY
This poetry collection contains poems dedicated to cats and cat adventures. In this book of poetry, we are treated to poems involving cats and cat activities, from how agile they are, to how much they sleep, to eating habits and even one poem dedicated to the memory of one who has passed away. In one fun poem, author Betsy Franco writes, “If you’re close enough to read this, I’ll bet your face is getting mighty wet” (Franco 2009). The poems alone don’t always work as well without the full page, colorful, bold, interesting and fun illustrations by Michael Wertz.
c. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
In this collection of poems celebrating cats, each poem and illustration creatively display the text in unique ways. In each poem, the illustrations and text position take over the book and make for a fun read. For example, in one poem, titled, “Ear Decorations,” the poem is wrapped in a web on a cat’s ears as it states, “When Jada ducks beneath the house, she always reappears with wispy, silky, spider webs strung in between her ears” (Franco 2009). From this example, it is clear that not all poems follow a process of rhyming as much as they focus on telling a fun story. The poems clearly run along well along with the illustrations, each cannot exist without the other, they both unite to create an enjoyable book.
d. REVIEWS – From Powell’s books: http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781582462486
“Every cat lover in the universe ought to own this endearingly wacky collection of poems accompanied by purrfect art. It’s an homage to burnish a coffee table…or freshen a litter box. Cats, as Betsy Franco knows, read too.” –J. Patrick Lewis
“Step aside Mr. Eliot! Make room for Ms. Franco’s fabulous cast of felines. This marriage of concrete poetry and art is one to pore and purr over again and again.” –Lee Bennett HopkinsReviews
“Cat lovers will recognize the standoffs with arching backs, the cozy touch of the “purrfect” scarf on their shoulders, and the tech-savvy cat who walks across the keyboard to add her own note to an e-mail to a friend.”—Booklist
Awards won: ABC Catalog of best books of 2009, Honor Winner: Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and NCTE Notable Poetry Book of 2009
Related books: A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
Activities: Video of one of the rhyme poems sung by Illustrator Michael Wertz and partner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTZjZ5iWWn4
Cat related printables: http://www.printactivities.com/Theme-Printables/Cat-Printables.html
The Braid by Helen Frost
Frost, Helen. The Braid. 2006. New York, New York: Frances Foster Books. ISBN-13: 978-0-374-30962-6 & ISBN-10: 0-374-30962-0
b. PLOT SUMMARY
In this Verse Novel, author Helen Frost includes both poetry and two narratives which tell the story of two girls separated when they are forced to live in separate countries when forced out by ruthless landlords in Scotland. Holding on to one thing that can keep them together, a braid containing the hair of each of them, each girl tells their story about living away from their beloved sibling. Jeannie, one of the sister’s states, “I loosen both braids. In Sarah’s I find, like a kept promise, a tiny seashell – round, white. At its center, one small star” (Frost 2006, 79). In between each narrative, a poem features a topic covered in either narrative, such as Seals or Potatoes. While living on Canada and their native Scotland, each girl tells their own story of growing up, of learning to survive, of immigration and of family.
c. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
In this young adult novel by Helen Frost, Frost intends for the braid not only to be the center of the story, but also creates a weave in the book involving two narrative stories and a poem in between them. Frost explains that she created the story based on an admiration of Celtic knots. The three elements she uses in the book are narrative poems, praise poems, and “line lengths based on syllabic counts” (Frost 2006, 91). Each praise poem contains the last line of one poem begins the next one, thus enforcing the “weave” effect. In this historical fiction novel, the author also uses the same number of syllables in the narrative which are the age of the narrarator, creating poetry within the narration as well.
d. REVIEWS – All reviews from MacMillian publishers: http://us.macmillan.com/thebraid/HelenFrost
“This gem of a book ultimately tackles age-old issues of teen pregnancy, death, poverty, and first love in a timeless manner. Accomplished and impressive.” —Starred, School Library Journal
“The braid is both powerful fact and stirring metaphor . . . the book will inspire students and teachers to go back and study how the taut poetic lines manage to contain the powerful feelings.” —Starred, Booklist
“Incredibly imagery, rich vocabulary, and powerful storytelling.” —Kirkus Reviews
Awards won: 2007 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.
Related books: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, Hearbeat by Sharon Cheech, Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
Activities: From TeachingBooks.com : http://www.atpe.org/Resources/Educators/bookClubQuestions/09MayHS.pdf
The Llama Who Had No Pajama by Betty Fraser
Hoberman, Mary Ann. The Llama Who Had No Pajama. 1998. Ill by Betty Fraser. New York, New York: Browndeer Press. ISBN 0-15-200111-5.
b. PLOT SUMMARY
In this book of poetry written by Mary Ann Hoberman, Hoberman covers a wide range of topics, from animals, to dressing up to neighbors and even insects. Each poem follows a rhyme schedule, as the title itself, displays. In one poem about balloons, Hoberman writes, “Balloons to blow, balloons to burst, the blowing is best, the bursting is worst.” While some poems are as short as the Balloon poem, some, like the Llama title poem are as long as a page.
c. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
In this book made up of 100 different poems, each poem contains a rhyme scheme in which rhyming usually occurs on every other line, and some rhymes are contained within one line, such as the line from Llama Who Had no Pajama, which states, “When it became known that he had outgrown” (Hoberman 1998, 42). In the illustrations, Betty Fraser creates illustrations that echo the poetry, creating characters to go along with the story. The characters created are usually small and featured somewhere near the poems, and are probably small to accomidate the 100 poems sometimes displayed in groups of two or three on one page. Illustrator Betty Fraser also makes use of border art work displayed to outline a full page poem.
d. REVIEWS From the Mary Ann Hoberman website: http://www.maryannhoberman.com/books/theLlamaWho.html
“This collection of some forty years of Hoberman verse is a charmer. The poems – peppy verses immediately identifiable as Hoberman’s by their use of alliteration and repeated words and lines – seem to cover every subject under the sun; all are dependably child-centered.” – Horn Book
“Poems drawn from Hoberman’s previous works…are packaged to delight a new generation of youngsters. Children may be reminded of A.A. Milne’s poetry…but Hoberman’s poetry goes deeper, offering children a new way to look at things.” – Booklist
Awards won: Gold Award Winner – 1998 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
Best Books of the Year – Child Magazine
Related books: The Cozy Book by Mary Ann Hoberman, The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Activities: Poetry Foundation: Book reading by Author, Mary Ann Hoberman: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/video/197
Book preview online: http://www.maryannhoberman.com/books/theLlamaWho2.html