cover image Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry

Joyce Sidman, , illus. by Michelle Berg. . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-44894-4

Sidman (Song of the Waterboatman ) and Berg (Lucky Leprechaun ) get playful with typeface and shapes, bucking conventional descriptions and seeking alternatives to voice-bubble dialogue. With smooth curvy lines, chunky letters and friendly animal personalities, their pages exude a warmth uncommon in digitally illustrated books (with the exception of J.otto Siebold's). Events take place in an ordinary backyard under a robin's-egg blue sky, where puffy, transparent white words overlap to form clouds ("plump bright dome of sugary white sky-muffin") and rounded green letters group to fill in a tree ("Each leaf a map of branches each twig a branch of leaves each branch a tree of twigs…"). On a lush carpet of "petunia-edged, much-flattened, sturdy-bladed, seed-studded grass," three crows tease a white kitten, while a brown spotted puppy pants, "must hunt/ must find/ …/ catcatcatcat chipmunk !" As the crows' cawing intensifies, the antic dog and cat spy each other across the lawn; the clouds thicken, and vertical lines of pale-blue letters begin dripping down as raindrops. Sheltering under a picnic table with three ladybugs, the kitten and pup learn to like each other. Zesty words, images and design mesh in this springy treat, concluding with a surprise April shower. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)