I've been reading books for the Cybils for several weeks. I should be writing a review for Steve Jenkin's book Dogs and Cats right now, but my mind has wandered into "perfect pair" territory. When Elaine Started Wild Rose Reader back in April, she outlined her hopes for the blog. One was to write features called "A Perfect Pair," where she would discuss two books with a common storyline or theme. This is a wonderful idea, particularly when one book in the pair is poetry.
I have a hard time convincing my students (some preservice teachers, some experienced teachers) to use the genre of poetry in the classroom. I wish it wasn't such a struggle, but it is. Perhaps by pairing poetry with other books, teachers can see the value in integrating more poetry into their instruction.
So, back to Dogs and Cats. I am crazy about the work Steve Jenkins does. I am always amazed at the depth he is able to create with his cut and torn paper collage creations. This book is told in two halves/directions, with the dog side and cat side offering parallel information (history, physical characteristics, etc.). They meet in the middle with the question "Friends or enemies?" Brief passages of informational text are accompanied by Jenkins' signature illustrations. Silhouettes of dogs and cats with interesting bits of information appear in the other animal's section, encouraging readers to think about the comparisons between animals. There is a lot of great information here in a book that is fun to peruse.
There are a number of poetry books that would make good partners for Jenkins' book. Here are a few of my favorites.
- bow wow meow meow: it's rhyming cats and dogs by Douglas Florian - Florian presents a series of 21 poems about domesticated and wild dogs and cats.
- I Am the Dog I Am the Cat by Donald Hall - This free verse poem alternates between the voice of a rottweiler and the voice of a tabby cat.
- Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry by Joyce Sidman - A dog and cat are trapped under a picnic table in a rainstorm. Since much of the verse forms the images on the page, readers will enjoy searching for the buried verses while reading the story.
- Raining Cats and Dogs by Jane Yolen - Similar in format to Dogs and Cats, this book can be read from both directions. Tired of poems about dogs? Flip the book over and read about cats. (This one's out of print, so check your local library for a copy.)
- Cool Cat, Hot Dog by Sandy Turner - Appearing on facing pages, the cat and dog in this story argue over who is the superior animal.