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MEOW RUFF by Joyce Sidman


A Story in Concrete Poetry

by Joyce Sidman & illustrated by Michelle Berg

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-44894-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

A fat brown puppy escapes from his house as a round white kitten is abandoned by its owners. They find themselves in a park, where the inevitable hostilities are interrupted by a thunderstorm, after which they just as inevitably become friends. If the bare bones of the story are nothing new, the presentation is. Each element on the page is made up of a series of concrete poems, the clouds beginning as “wisp[s],” growing to a “thunder-plumped seething mass of gloomy fuming / black-bottomed storm brewing” spread across the double-page sky, and shrinking to “tuft[s]” after the rain. The poems are rendered in appropriately colored and shaped typefaces: The grass is green, elongated, skinny sans-serif blades against a lighter green background, while the tree is made up of plump green letter-leaves atop solidly blocky brown trunk-letters. Newcomer Berg’s simple, almost infantile shapes and primary palette serve to draw the reader’s eyes to the shaped poems that are the work’s main event. While mediating between the poems and the pictures they form presents a challenge to the reader, the playfulness and originality of concept make this a welcome offering. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)