A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz


Rating: 5 stars

A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz is a humorous and clever collection of poems about dogs doing what dogs do: riding in the car, sleeping, usurping a favorite chair, snuggling with a teddy bear, escaping, running, barking.

The vibrant and vivid colors of the illustrations will draw children of all ages into the pages and the funny, well-thought-out rhymes will keep the reader turning the pages.

The poems are adorable, and the unusual juxtaposition of shapes and graphics take the words to a new level. Some of the poems are written in circles, some on the wings of gulls, one is on a tennis ball sitting wetly in the dog’s mouth, and others crawl diagonally across the page. Movement is everywhere–this is not a sedate collection of poetry but rather poetry that will make its readers laugh out loud.

The illustrator, Michael Wertz, adopted his dog from the Berkeley Animal Shelter. She is a pit mix called Miss Olive.

He says, “Olive showed up in a couple of spots in A Dazzling Display of Dogs – there’s the poem that Betsy Franco (the poet) wrote called “Miss Olive’s Teddy Bear,” but that’s also Miss Olive who modeled for “Circling Poem 2 : Coco Circling on the Rug”. When you live with a dog, you end up drawing (and photographing) her a lot, and that ends up in the artwork, even as details or facial expressions. I have a huge scrap file of dog images to draw from as well, but it’s always fun when Miss Olive makes a personal appearance.”

His love of dogs shines through on every page.

Because of the sophistication of the language and vocabulary in some poems, this book will be enjoyed by children from the age of seven on up through adulthood.

Teachers will love using this book to teach students that poetry can be — and perhaps should be — lots of fun.

A Dazzling Display of Dogs was a starred review in the School Library Journal.

The first book of animal poetry, A Curious Collection of Cats, is just as clever and beautifully illustrated. It won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor.