Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Love That Dog (Harper Collins 2001) by Sharon Creech is a novel for kids in verse. It's written as a series of dated poems/letters from a grade school boy named Jack to his teacher Miss Stretchberry. You never see what the teacher is writing to him, but you can tell from Jack's responses that Miss Stretchberry is encouraging his poetic endeavors. In the book Jack learns to appreciate poetry, both the writing and the reading of it, and crushes out Walter Dean Myers. Reading Myers's poem "Love That Boy" inspires Jack to write a poem called "Love That Dog."

Most of the time Creech gets the voice of this grade school kid spot on, like on the book's opening page:
I don't want to
because boys
don't write poetry.

Girls do.
There are times, like the Walter Dean Myers crush-out fest, where Jack's voice and the short little lines he communicates in feel a bit less organic, a bit too "gotta move the story along." But the overall premise of the book is rather adorable. If only an elementary school teacher spent that much time teaching kids poetry. And if only more boys fell in love with it as a result.

Added bonus: Creech includes the poems that are referenced throughout the book at the end including "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams, part of "The Tiger" by William Blake, "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Pasture" by Robert Frost, and "Street Music" by Arnold Adoff. So should a kid read this book and be inspired to seek out more poetry, it's already in his or her hands.

Added bonus: Creech just published a followup, which I have not read, called Hate That Cat.

No comments: