Posted in ELA Instruction, Module 9, Poetry and Short Stories

Module 9: A Curious Collection of Cats

Title: A Curious Collection of Cats

Author:Betsy Franco

ISBN: 978-1-58246-248-6

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books


A Curious Collection of Cats is a book of brightly illustrated cat poems that detail all of the quirks and personalities found in cats.The poems are often as unruly as the felines they portray, with upside down poems, curved words, and even a poem shaped like the fat cat that it is about. Each poem takes on a personality of its own, and helps any cat loving reader get closer to their purring pets.

Franco, B. & Wertz, M. (2009). A curious collection of cats. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.

My Impressions:

This collection of concrete cat poems will have readers of all ages laughing out loud. Each poem in the collection is unique, and brilliantly illustrated. The art and the poems work well together- one would not be the same without the other. Several of the poems stuck out to me after I finished the book. I loved the hilarious haiku poems included, and thought that they could not have done a better job of portraying some of the less endearing personality traits cats posses. Perhaps my favorite  poem in the collection was completely symmetrical. The illustration is stunning, and captures the picture of two cats sitting on a chair perfectly. Cat lovers and haters alike will all find something worthwhile in this collection of poems. I recommend this book to readers of all ages.

For Use in the Library:

This collection would pair well with a work of fiction about cats, such as What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. As it contains examples of many different types of poems, this collection would make an excellent addition to a poetry unit. The collection includes several great haiku poems, and even a symmetrical poem that could be used to supplement a geometry unit.


In an ideal match of subject and form, poet Franco uses the sinuous shapes and playful motions of cats to distill the essence of felines in all their grace and ridiculousness. Each of the thirty-two concrete poems is a mini-depiction of a particular cat, as in “Veronica Goes Wide”: “Veronica’s gotten so pudgy / and PLUMP, / she now mostly acts like a snuggable / lump”; the poem is written across the yellow cat, with the M in lump formed from her ears. Cats interact with dogs, with squirrels, with one another, and with people in a variety of funny ways, but Franco uses words so precisely to capture cats’ behavior that cat-lovers will feel a shock of recognition. Cat-haters may, too, as Franco lays bare the lesscharming aspects of life with cats, as in “cat haiku 1” (“Tuna fish dinner / Kitty washes down her meal / sips from toilet bowl”) and the self-explanatory “that cat peed on my hat.” Wirtz’s illustrations, monoprints adjusted in Adobe Photoshop, keep the words that wrap and weave around the cats readable while still creating visual interest in the backgrounds. Together, poet and artist convey the silliness of cats and their humans without ever being silly themselves. s.d.l.

S. D., L. (2009). [Review of the book A curious collection of cats, by B. Franco & M. Wertz]. Horn Book Magazine, 85(3), 314-315. Retrieved from