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Curious Collection of Cats

Curious Collection of Cats

by Betsy Franco, Michael Wertz (Illustrator)
The quirky ways of cats are exquisitely captured in more than thirty original visual poems. From acrobat-flipping to toilet-bowl-sipping, couch-scratching to dog-catching, this insightful collection celebrates the fickle feline in ways that any cat lover will appreciate.


The quirky ways of cats are exquisitely captured in more than thirty original visual poems. From acrobat-flipping to toilet-bowl-sipping, couch-scratching to dog-catching, this insightful collection celebrates the fickle feline in ways that any cat lover will appreciate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ABC Best Book for Children

Starred Review, The Horn Book:
"An ideal match of subject and form....Cat-lovers will feel a shock of recognition....Together, poet and artist convey the silliness of cats and their humans without ever being silly themselves....From acrobat-flipping to toilet-bowl-sipping, couch-scratching to dog-catching, words and pictures blend together to create a funny celebrate of all things feline."

Review, Language Arts, July 1, 2010:
"Every cat lover and classroom will want to add this purrfect book to their libraries, and will certainly want to share this on ewith a cat or two."

Review, Booklist:
"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.”

Review, San Francisco Chronicle:
"Thirty concrete poems that stretch, crouch, pounce, and purr across the pages, like their feline subjects."

"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 Hopkins

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Cats pounce, slink and curl up in these 32 concrete poems by Betsy Franco. Sly humor and a deep appreciation of feline quirks add to the fun as do Michael Wertz's bright, stylized illustrations. There is a poem perfect for any situation and kitty personality, including a verse about an angry cat and a brand-new hat and a haiku about a hairball. "Yoga Cat Pose" and "Her Royal Highness" are especially playful. The first has undulating lines that reflect a cat arching and tilting, and the second portrays a diva kitty snoozing on her "throne of/folded laundry." These poems are purr-fect for young animal lovers—and may inspire kids to write shaped poems about other four-legged friends. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Franco understands the nuanced world of the fluffy, fractious, and faithful feline friend. Thirty-two unusual, concrete poems, one per page with a single exception, are matched by Wertz's monoprints. The words move in several directions and sometimes inhabit multiple objects. The poems are so embedded within the illustrations that it is hard to imagine them without the artwork; they are virtually inseparable. In a print of a cat licking its neck, its exceptionally long tongue is created out of words. Readers following the poem will find they are forced to turn the book to the side, and may crane their own necks, experiencing an odd identification with the activity of the cat. The poem "Princess" uses arrows as part of the illustrated content to keep readers on the language path as "Princess paces down and up" awaiting her supper. At times, the path isn't obvious, but youngsters delight in solving puzzles, and these are merely little challenges that prove fun to master. In "Hot Daze," a red devilish arrow points to the poem's beginning. Among the various subjects are fat cats, shy cats, a kitty who "sips from toilet bowl," and a polydactyl cat with "poofy fur" and "prissy looks." Cat lovers will recognize their felines stretching, purring, and napping. This collection would pair nicely with Sharon Creech's Hate That Cat (HarperCollins, 2008).-Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Franco's witty but uneven collection of concrete poems celebrating feline antics is accompanied by striking illustrations done in pencil and finished in monoprint and Photoshop. Atop rich, textured backgrounds, cats-each one bursting with personality-stretch, fight, perch, leap, rest and pounce. Each image is saturated in bright, often fluorescent colors, incorporating the text within them. One poem, for example, called "Prickles vs. the Golden Retriever," is printed on the spiked-up fur of a cat's back. It reads: "Prickle's [sic] fur / is sticking out / His back is arched. / His teeth are bared. / The dog he caught / in our backyard / is whimpering / and very scared." An orange cat, with angry, puffed-up tail, arched back and bared teeth, occupies a quarter of the page, towering over the dog, who has flattened himself to the ground; readers see only his head, with a single tear coming from his eye, and a stretched-out paw. Capturing the spirit of each verse, Wertz turns a collection of otherwise unremarkable visual poems into a true treat for the eyes. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

BETSY FRANCO has written over eighty books, including poetry collections, picture books, and a YA novel. Her anthologies of teenage poetry have appeared on the ALA Best Books and Quick Picks lists. Betsy lives in northern California, with her husband and two cat-muses, Jada and Frida.

MICHAEL WERTZ has taught Illustration at the California College of the Arts and is the co-founder of Monster Illustration, a loose confederation of illustrators who banded together in 1996. Michael lives and works in Oakland, California, with his husband and their dog Olive, who helped inform Michael's observations of the neighborhood cats.

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