Thursday, July 3, 2008

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Creech, Sharon. (2001). Love That Dog. New York: Harper Trophy, 86 pages.

At the beginning of the school year, Jack is not so sure about writing poetry and makes that very clear to his teacher in his poetry journal. First he starts by writing complaints broken into short lines. He discusses poems that his teacher presents to the class until finally he is able to share the love for his dog in a poem inspired by “Mr. Walter Dean Myers.”

I went into this book thinking 2 things:

1) This is going to be another pet story
2) There is going to be some really good poetry here

I was wrong on two accounts. More than a story about a boy and his dog is a story about a boy realizing that it is okay to be who he is. The poetry improves as Jack gains confidence in himself and his work. The story is told only in his words and we get the teacher’s perspective only through him. This is not another Because of Winn Dixie.

Second, the novel may be in verse but it is a child’s verse. Myer’s novel Street Love (see below) incorporates a more mature poetry with metaphor, rhythm and all other expected elements. This obviously reflects a child’s voice – an immature effort at poetry. This doesn’t make it bad. In fact, it makes it accessible to a younger audience than it would otherwise and will build confidence in understanding poetry.

The book incorporates both classic and contemporary poetry in a creative and not pushy manner, but focuses on Walter Dean Myers the most contemporary of the authors. This adds a personal touch and may motivate a reader to further exploration.

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