I saw the cover of The Best Worst Poet Ever (with the word best scratched out) and thought, “Well that is a smidgen different.” And there was a pudgy stereotypical cat, and a funky pug on the cover. Okay, I like cats (even if they are snooty and the villain), but there has only ever been one pug for me (her name was Rosie/Rosa (depending on what they felt like calling her at the time) that farted, ate cat poop, was incontinent, got upset I was not her owner and was sleeping on her couch (she belonged to my sister and I needed a couch to crash on late one night) and snored (the dog, not me. I just loudly shushed her, waking up the house. God, I missed that dog when she passed away). So, I was not sure I was going to like Pug.
And in the end, I was not OMG OMG This is the Best Ever! but did come away with feeling it was clever and the modern reader would get a kick out of it. When Cat and Pug are determined to show the other animal that they are the best poet, the fur and claws fly! Bad puns, worse verse and all sorts of mayhem happens. But it is when they learn the joys of cooperation and writing together that the worst comes out first!
Lauren Stohler creates a battle of rhyme and what a time it is! Cat and Pug go at it in simple illustrations (also by Stohler) but not simplistic. It fits the showdown tone. The text itself is not simple. Long and short poems jump around. It is busy without being too overwhelming. But also, not for the young reader/listener. It could work nicely as a read-aloud for an older child, or for a class learning poetry.