Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech's Love That Dog
, a funny, sweet, original short novel written in free verse, introduces us to an endearingly unassuming, straight-talking boy who discovers the powers and pleasures of poetry. Against his will. After all, "boys don't write poetry. Girls do." What does he say of the famous poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"? "I think Mr. Robert Frost / has a little / too / much / time / on his / hands." As his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, introduces the canon to the class, however, he starts to see the light. Poetry is not so bad, it's not just for girls, and it's not even that hard to write. Take William Carlos Williams, for example: "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." He becomes more and more discerning as the days go by, and readers' spirits will rise with Jack's as he begins to find his own voice through his own poetry and through that of others. His favorite poem of all is a short, rhythmic one by Walter Dean Myers called "Love That Boy" (included at the end of the book with all the rest of Ms. Stretchberry's assignments). The words completely captivate him, reminding him of the loving way his dad calls him in the morning and of the way he used to call his yellow dog, Sky. Jack's reverence for the poem ultimately leads to meeting the poet himself, an experience he will never forget.
This winning, accessible book is truly remarkable in that Creech lets us witness firsthand how words can open doors to the soul. And this from a boy who asks, "Why doesn't the person just / keep going if he's got / so many miles to go / before he sleeps?" (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
Wolf's (Party of Five) bright, boyish voice brings to life Creech's novel-in-free-verse about a student's enlightening year of course work. As school starts in September, Jack is not eager to embark on Miss Stretchberry's poetry writing assignments. "I don't want to/ because boys/ don't write poetry./ Girls do." But Jack's attitude soon changes. As Miss Stretchberry reads the works of great poets (Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, William Blake) to the class and encourages Jack's writing efforts, Jack discovers his unique voice--and a true talent for creative expression. The culmination of Jack's great year is a classroom visit from Mr. Walter Dean Myers, who wrote what Jack considers "the best best BEST/ poem/ ever," called "Love That Boy," a selection that has become the boy's biggest inspiration. Wolf plays Jack with a realistic, respectful and contemporary tone. He nimbly conveys surprise, wonder and heartfelt emotion without sounding sentimental or affected, a quality that will have many young listeners enthralled. Ages 8-up.
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