Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry

by Joyce Sidman and Michelle Berg

“Plump / bright dome / of sugary white / sky muffin.” Joyce Sidman’s... read more

“Plump / bright dome / of sugary white / sky muffin.” Joyce Sidman’s descriptive cloud poem will change shape, form, and content over the course of this intriguing picture book, just like the clouds themselves. If there’s a story here, it’s of small dog and a small cat at odds with one another until a sudden storm finds them sheltering beneath the same picnic table. But the real story is the way that tale is told—in a series of concrete poems that chronicle the storm’s rise and fall, the changing relationship of the two animals, and their surroundings. The rain is represented in falling words that convey both the sight and sound of the downpour: “sudden ferocious drilling” (the storm’s onset), “stinging ropes of water” (the height of its fury), “fat fingers tip tapping” (as the rain begins to subside). A series of lovely descriptive poems also describe the tree in the yard, the grass beneath the animals’ feet, and, of course, the clouds. While some of Sidman’s poems are true concrete verse, taking the shape of their subject, others are merely suggestive of a form. Illustrator Michelle Berg’s task was to draw the characters and complete the scene, and the bold, clear, graphic design of her illustrations provide a perfect complement to Sidman’s words. (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

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