Book Review

Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech

Ms. Creech is the award-winning author of Walk Two Moons, a book I read first when I was twelve years old (just a year younger than the free-spirited yet insecure, tree-loving protagonist, Sal Hiddle) and many times since then.

The Story

Love That Dog is a book about the joy of learning and writing poetry, aimed at grammar school readers, and I have been using it with my youngest pupil to introduce her to poetry, similar to how the character of Ms. Stretchberry introduces poetry to Jack's class.  The story is written in a pleasing and easy-to-follow format, in the form of a diary which chronicles the main character's encounter with poetry throughout the school year.

At first, Jack thinks that writing poems is just for girls, but imitation of his favorite poets and experimenting with words help him find his voice.

when you are trying
not to think about something
it keeps popping back in your head
you can't help it
you think about it
think about it
think about it
until your brain
feels like
a squashed pea.

With the positive encouragement of Ms. Stretchberry (which takes place "off-stage," so as not to interrupt Jack's narrative), his confidence in his ability to express himself in the written word grows, and he eventually is able to open up about experiences in his own life and find growth and healing.

The Point

As a (bad) poet and lover of literature, it is inspiring and profoundly moving for me to witness a young person encounter the beauty of poetry.  In Love That Dog, this happens on two levels: with Jack in the story and with the person with which you are studying it.  Readers get the second-hand wisdom of Ms. Stretchberry, and the poems she uses are included in the back of the book for context, so that Love That Dog actually becomes a teaching tool in itself.

If that isn't enough, there are free teaching guides that can be easily accessed online.  Everything you need for an interest-piquing and heartwarming introduction to poetry.

I had the pleasure of receiving a letter from Sharon Creech after writing her when I was twenty years old.  What a surprise to find a response from her in mailbox!  I still have that letter.

If it isn't immediately obvious from her stories, my personal experience proves that Ms. Creech is an interactive author who enjoys reaching out to readers.  A great activity for you and your children to do after finishing this book is to follow Jack's example in writing Walter Dean Meyers and write and mail her a little letter or poem.  And who knows--like Jack, you may get an answer back!

You can follow her blog, Words We Say, to keep abreast of her activities and publications.


Post a Comment

Leave me a comment! Don't be shy!