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Love That Dog: A Novel


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About the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty-one books for young people and is published in over twenty languages. Her books have received awards in both the U.S. and abroad, including the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, the Newbery Honor for The Wanderer, and Great Britain's Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler. Before beginning her writing career, Sharon Creech taught English for fifteen years in England and Switzerland. She and her husband now live in Maine, "lured there by our grandchildren," Creech says. www.sharoncreech.com


Gr 4-8-Jack keeps a journal for his teacher, a charming, spare free-verse monologue that begins: "I don't want to/because boys/don't write poetry./Girls do." But his curiosity grows quickly as Miss Stretchberry feeds the class a varied menu of intriguing poems starting with William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow," which confuses Jack at first. Gradually, he begins to see connections between his personal experiences and the poetry of William Blake, Robert Frost, and others, and Creech's compellingly simple plot about love and loss begins to emerge. Jack is timid about the first poems he writes, but with the obvious encouragement and prodding of his masterful teacher, he gains the courage to claim them as his own in the classroom displays. When he is introduced to "Love That Boy" by Walter Dean Myers, he makes an exuberant leap of understanding. "MARCH 14/That was the best best BEST/poem/you read yesterday/by Mr. Walter Dean Myers/the best best BEST/poem/ever./I am sorry/I took the book home/without asking./I only got/one spot/on it./That's why/the page is torn./I tried to get/the spot/out." All the threads of the story are pulled together in Jack's final poem, "Love That Dog (Inspired by Walter Dean Myers)." Creech has created a poignant, funny picture of a child's encounter with the power of poetry. Readers may have a similar experience because all of the selections mentioned in the story are included at the end. This book is a tiny treasure.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

In last year's Fishing in the Air, Creech took a spare, metaphorical approach to a father-son relationship. Here she examines the bond between a boy and his dog to create an ideal homage to the power of poetry and those who write it. The volume itself builds like a poem. Told exclusively through Jack's dated entries in a school journal, the book opens with his resistance to writing verse: "September 13/ I don't want to/ because boys/ don't write poetry./ Girls do." Readers sense the gentle persistence of Jack's teacher, Miss Stretchberry, behind the scenes, from the poems she reads in class and from her coaxing, to which the boy alludes, until he begins to write some poems of his own. One by William Carlos Williams, for instance, inspires Jack's words: "So much depends/ upon/ a blue car/ splattered with mud/ speeding down the road." A Robert Frost poem sends Jack into a tale (in verse) of how he found his dog, Sky. At first, his poems appear to be discrete works. But when a poem by Walter Dean Myers ("Love That Boy" from Brown Angels) unleashes the joy Jack felt with his pet, he becomes even more honest in his poetry. Jack's next work is cathartic: all of his previous verses seemed to be leading up to this pice de rsistance, an admission of his profound grief over Sky's death. He then can move on from his grief to write a poem ("inspired by Walter Dean Myers") about his joy at having known and loved his dog. As in any great poem, the real story surfaces between the lines. From Jack's entries, readers learn how unobtrusively his teacher guides him to poems he can collect and emulate, and how patiently she convinces him to share his own work. By exposing Jack and readers to the range of poems that moves Jack (they appear at the back of the book), Creech conveys a life truth: pain and joy exist side by side. For Jack and for readers, the memory of that dog lives on in his poetry. Readers will love that dog, and this book. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Sharon Creech has achieved more than one impressive feat here."--New York Times Book Review

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