Author Betsy Franco and artist Michael Wertz have worked together to make A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters an exuberant collection of poems and pictures, and poems as pictures. Each page celebrates a “sea critter” with a poem whose words wind in and around the pictures, a part of the illustration.
Betsy Franco’s poems are light-hearted, joyful verses about the beauty that is found in the sea. Franco has used multiple forms of poetry in A Selection of Sea Critters, writing everything from limericks to haiku, acrostic to riddle poetry. In each case, the shape of the poem reflects its subject, the words clustering around the figure, forming the critter, or reflecting the path it takes. Sometimes, this means that the reader has to turn the book to read the text as it flows around a castle or around in a vortex.
Michel Wertz’s colorful, textured art work play with the words, sometimes enfolding them, sometimes folding out to illustrate them further. They are brightly-colored, layered works using collage and textured additions. He balances keeping the shapes simple enough to see quickly and yet complicated enough to warrant a second and third look.
The two are an ideal picture-book pairing: It is impossible to truly tell where one began and the other left off, with each playing off of the other to create visually and verbally stunning poetry.
A Spectacular Sellection of Sea Critters is recommended to word-lovers and book-hoarders everywhere.
A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters will be published October 1, 2015. Look for it on Amazon.