"The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in art and words." -Peter Reynolds

Friday, April 11, 2014

Love That Dog: A Novel

Love That Dog: A Novel by Sharon Creech was published in 2001 by Harper Collins. It is a fictional novel in which a boy named Jack tells the story of his dog. He is studying poetry in Miss Stretchberry's class and the entire novel is written in short poems by Jack to his teacher.

I couldn't help but giggle to myself from the very first page. Our narrator, Jack, is writing to his teacher Miss Stretchberry through poems:
"September 13

I don't want to
because boys
don't write poetry.

Girls do."

Each entry written by Jack has the date and his thoughts as a poem. The text spans throughout the school year. He begins as a reluctant writer and doesn't have ideas for any poems. He struggles to understand the mentor poems in class. Yet as the text goes on we quickly see a change in Jack as he becomes more analytic and interested in the mentor texts. He even begins writing some of his own and Miss Stretchberry enjoys them so much she wants to share them with the class. Jack's reaction is one I can envision all young boys having:

October 4

Do you promise
not to read it
out loud?
Do you promise
not to put it
on the board?

I don't want to spoil it for you but Jack's poems begin to tell the story of a dog he had once and he gets really into writing poetry. He even begins to develop his own sense of voice:

"January 31

you can type up
what I wrote
about my yellow dog
but leave off the part
about the other dogs
getting killed dead
because that's too sad.

And don't put
my name
on it

And maybe 
it would look good
on yellow paper. 

And maybe
the title
should be

Jack slowly becomes a wonderful poet and it is fascinating to see his skills and talent develop throughout the school year. He even becomes a huge fan of a famous poet named Mr. Walter Dean Meyers and gets him to visit the school! This book touched my heart in few ways as a teacher and dog lover myself. We get to witness this young boy blossom as a reader and writer of poetry in all aspects of the craft. If you love this book or are more of a "cat person," there is a sequel to this book entitled Hate That Cat: A Novel. I haven't read it yet but I definitely plan to!

I do have one, and only one, criticism of the text. I didn't like that copies of the mentor poems were provided at the end of the book instead of the beginning. I didn't know they were even there until I finished the book and found myself wishing I could refer to them throughout the story. My poetry unit for my second graders is beginning next week and I plan to read this book aloud to them. However, I will provide copies of the mentor poems from the back of the book for my students from the beginning so they can construct more meaning from the text.

No comments:

Post a Comment