I consider myself so lucky that I have the chance to pull books for displays and holds at the library. I stumble across some of the most interesting books. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech counts as one of those fascinating books. I found it on the shelves in our juvenile department, and it's probably designed for ages 11 and up.
Jack's a student in Miss Stretchberry's class, where they're studying poetry. He doesn't want to write poetry, because boys don't write poetry; girls do. And, throughout the book, Jack writes to his teacher, telling her about his attempts to write, attempts that improve over the course of the book, and become enjoyable attempts at poems. Each of Jack's notes is in the form of a poem, and the poems change depending on the current lessons. The reader can follow Jack's progress, and the lessons, while only seeing Jack's comments. To older readers, it's obvious the class has studied poems by Robert Frost, William Blake. And, finally, they study Walter Dean Myers, an author Jack loves enough to write to, following the urging of Miss Stretchberry.
Love That Dog is a wonderful book, whether or not the reader loves poetry. Creech succeeds on so many levels. Readers find out Jack's story as the book evolves. Jack's teacher is a wise woman, as evidenced by Jack's own writing. And, the book shows the power of poetry to change people.
For those of us who don't recognize all of the poems, Creech includes the poems studied by Jack and his classmates. I loved Jack, his poems, and his wise, unseen teacher. I can't wait to read the other Jack book, Hate That Cat.
Sharon Creech's website is www.sharoncreech.com
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. HarperCollins Children's Books, ©200l. ISBN 9780060292874 (hardcover), 112p.