Love That Dog
by Creech, Sharon






A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem.





Gr. 3-6. In simple free verse, Jack tells his teacher that he cares nothing about poetry and sees no point in that snowy woods stuff: "Why doesn't the person just / keep going if he's got / so many miles to go before he sleeps?". But despite himself, he's enraptured by what his teacher is reading: the beat of "Tiger, tiger burning bright" just won't go away. At the same time, he's writing poetry in his own voice about himself, culminating in a breathtaking poem about what happened to his beloved dog. At the end, Creech overdoes Jack's fawning adoration of author Walter Dean Myers, who comes to school at Jack's behest, but that won't stop kids from recognizing both Jack's new exuberance and his earlier uptight mood. Best of all, the story shows how poetry inspires reading and writing with everyday words that make personal music. This is a book for teachers to read aloud and talk about with kids. Some of the poems Jack's teacher reads are appended, including Myers' wonderful "Love That Boy." ((Reviewed August 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews





Versatile Newbery Medalist Creech (A Fine, Fine School, p. 862, etc.) continues to explore new writing paths with her latest, written as free verse from the viewpoint of a middle-school boy named Jack. Creech knows all about reluctant writers from her own years of teaching, and she skillfully reveals Jack's animosity toward books and poetry, and especially about writing his own poems. He questions the very nature of poetry, forcing the reader to think about this question, too. Jack's class assignments incorporate responses to eight well-known poems (included in an appendix) and gradually reveal the circumstances, and Jack's hidden feelings, about the loss of his beloved dog. Jack's poetry grows in length, complexity, and quality from September to May, until he proudly sends his best poem about his dog and a heartfelt thank-you poem to Walter Dean Myers after the author's school visit. The inclusion of the eight poems is an advantage, because comments on the poems are often part of Jack's poetry. Others not already familiar with these famous poems, though, might miss the allusions in Jack's work. (There is no note at the beginning of the book to point the reader to the appendix.) But it's a quick read, offering a chance to go back and look again. Teachers will take this story to heart, recognizing Miss Stretchberry's skilled and graceful teaching and Jack's subtle emotional growth both as a person and a writer. This really special triumph is bound to be widely discussed by teachers and writers, and widely esteemed by Creech's devoted readers. (Fiction/poetry. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved





Excerpt


Jack


Room 105 — Miss Stretchberry


September 13

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


Girls do.


September 21


I tried.
Can't do it.
Brain's empty.


September 27

I don't understand
the poem about
the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
and why so much
depends upon
them.


If that is a poem
about the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
then any words
can be a poem.
You've just got to
make
short
lines.


October 4

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


Okay, here it is,
but I don't like it.


So much depends
upon
a blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road.


October 10

What do you mean'
Why does so much depend
upon
a blue car?


You didn't say before
that I had to tell why.


The wheelbarrow guy
didn't tell why.


October 17

What was up with
the snowy woods poem
you read today?


Why doesn't the person just
keep going if he's got
so many miles to go
before he sleeps?


And why do I have to tell more
about the blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road?


I don't want to
write about that blue car
that had miles to go
before it slept,
so many miles to go
in such a hurry.


October 24

I am sorry to say
I did not really understand
the tiger tiger burning bright poem
but at least it sounded good
in my ears.


Here is the blue car
with tiger sounds:


Blue car, blue car, shining bright
in the darkness of the night:
who could see you speeding by
like a comet in the sky?


I could see you in the night,
blue car, blue car, shining bright.
I could see you speeding by
like a comet in the sky.


Some of the tiger sounds
are still in my ears
like drums
beat-beat-beating.


October 31

Yes
you can put
the two blue-car poems
on the board
but only if
you don't put
my name
on them.


November 6

They look nice
typed up like that
on blue paper
on a yellowboard.


(But still don't tell anyone
who wrote them, okay?)


(And what does anonymous mean?
Is it good?)


November 9

I don't have any pets
so I can't write about one
and especially
I can't write
a POEM
about one.


November 15

Yes, I used to have a pet.
I don't want to write about it.


You're going to ask me
Why not?
Right?


November 22

Pretend I still have that pet?


Can't I make up a pet'
a different one?
Like a tiger?
Or a hamster?
A goldfish?
Turtle?
Snail?
Worm?
Flea?


November 29

I liked those
small poems
we read today.


When they're small
like that
you can read
a whole bunch
in a short time
and then in your head
are all the pictures
of all the small things
from all the small poems.


I liked how the kitten leaped
in the cat poem
and how you could see
the long head of the horse
in the horse poem
and especially I liked the dog
in the dog poem
because that's just how
my yellow dog
used to lie down,
with his tongue all limp
and his chin
between
his paws
and how he'd sometimes
chomp at a fly
and then sleep
in his loose skin,
just like that poet,
Miss Valerie Worth,
says,
in her small
dog poem.


December 4

Why do you want
to type up what I wrote
about reading
the small poems?


It's not a poem.
Is it?


I guess you can


Excerpted from Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. Copyright © 2001 by Sharon Creech. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Copyright © 2001 Sharon Creech.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-06-029287-3







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