Friday, September 17, 2010

Classroom Book Review: Love That Dog



Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Pages: 112
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: March 1, 2003
My Rating:

Goodreads says, "Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, won't stop giving her class poetry assignments -- and Jack can't avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns he does have something to say. With a fresh and deceptively simple style, acclaimed author Sharon Creech tells a story with enormous heart. Written as a series of free-verse poems from Jack's point of view, Love That Dog shows how one boy finds his own voice with the help of a teacher, a writer, a pencil, some yellow paper, and of course, a dog."

It's the start of a new unit in English class. It's the dreaded poetry unit.  Jack, the main character, is a reluctant poet as he thinks poetry is for girls only.  However, his teacher exposes the class to many poems and requires a lot of writing from her students.  At first, Jack feels he can't write poetry, but his teacher inspires him. They read Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams and even Jack's favorite, Walter Dean Myers.   As Jack continues writing he realizes it's not so bad and that it can actually be meaningful.  He makes a personal connection to a one of Walter Dean Myers' poems, "Love That Boy."  Jack is so inspired by that poem that he even writes the author.  Through poetry, Jack heals from the loss of his dog and ultimately learns to mend his broken heart.  Sharon Creech's Love That Dog is a heartwarming tale about the power of poetry.


I really love this book and every year when I teach poetry, I always refer to it and read excepts aloud to my class.  Creech includes the poetry that the students read in Jack's class and it's hysterical to read his comments.  For example, he questions why Frost has miles to go before he sleeps and says things like...well, why doesn't he just take a break?  Not only is this book laugh out loud funny, but it also is serious in that Jack learns the power of words.  It shows that a reluctant student can get something out of poetry and even be changed by it, thanks to his dedicated teacher.  


My favorite part of the book is when Jack starts to heal through poetry.  For anyone who has ever lost a pet, this book will most definitely speak to you.  And the most powerful thing about this novel is the fact that it's written as a series of free verse poems that Jack has written for class.  It's almost like his Writer's Notebook, which we use in my classroom as well.  Perhaps that is why my students can make so many connections to this book.  That's what made Love That Dog so special to me; it seemed so very real.  


People of all ages and fans of poetry can really appreciate this book, but it's a must read for any teachers out there who teach poetry.  This book is such an excellent resource and the students love the fact that it's from Jack's perspective.  There's even a sequel, Hate That Cat, which I hear is just as good. Even though this book was written seven years ago, it is still a classroom favorite and I bet it will be for many years to come.



4 comments:

  1. Wow fantastic review of a book I really will have to get. I have a lot of Jack's and many Jill's in my class who hate the poetry unit, so I am already connecting to this book, thanks.

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  2. Great review! I never heard of this book before, but with it being published a couple of years ago, I may even find it at the library! How fun! It does sounds fun to read! ;)

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  3. Thanks for stopping by, Juju, Jan and Nina. Jan- I definitely recommend this book when teaching poetry! Nina- It is definitely a fun read!

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