Love That Dog: A Novel in Free Verse tackles Poetry and Grief
For so many poetry is esoteric and inaccessible. I can remember reading Robert Frost's Mending Wall and coming away with the exact opposite message Frost intended and deciding that "poetry is just not for me". I'm not sure I would have felt that way if I had Sharon Creech's Love That Dog when I was in second or third grade.
Jack is a student in Miss Stretchberry's class. His story unfolds as a series of journal entries told in free verse that reflect on the poetry study the class is undertaking. At first Jack is resistant -- poetry is for girls, not boys. But as the class explores works by William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost and William Blake, and attempts poetry of their own, Jack slowly begins to overcome his resistance. He begins to imitate and then emulate the poets they study, and even becomes brave enough to write to a poet he particularly admires. He learns to share his work, first anonymously then with a suprised quality of pride.
The blue car, splattered with mud that Jack first writes about grows in centrality and importance as he uses his poetry to tell the story of Sky, his dog. With the constant encouragement of Miss Stretchberry, Jack comes out of his comfort zone and begins to tell the story in his heart. Through poetry, Jack learns to express his grief at losing Sky, but also celebrate his love for his dog.
Simple, elegant and inspiring, Sharon Creech makes poetry accessible and relatable to kids and grown ups alike.
Love That Dog a novel by Sharon Creech
(C) 2001 by Harper Trophy, 86 pp.
Love That Dog is a great introduction to poetry and may inspire children to try their own hand at writing poetry. Its also a meaningful way to talk about the loss of loved ones and grief.
Best for ages 8+