Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Love That Dog
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Love That Dog

4.4 82
by Sharon Creech

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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. With classic poetry included in the


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. With classic poetry included in the back matter, this provides the perfect resource for teachers and students alike.

"I guess it does look like a poem when you see it typed up like that."

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. Supports the Common Core State Standards

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech tells a moving, amusing, and heartwarming tale in Love That Dog, a story written in freewheeling prose disguised as poetry. And poetry is something that young Jack can't stand -- it's confusing and odd and strictly for girls. But he can't seem to escape it, since his teacher insists on giving out assignments that require him to read and write the stuff. When he creates his own poetry and the teacher wants to post it on a board for the class to see, Jack insists on anonymity. But once he sees how good his poetry looks typed out in neat letters on yellow paper and hears approbation from his peers, he finally lays claim to his work.

As Jack struggles with his aversion to poetry, he finds delight in some unexpected places -- poems written in specific shapes, phrases he particularly likes, or images he can easily relate to. When he dissects the poems he is assigned to read, he provides his own childlike insight to the words of such literary greats as Robert Frost, William Blake, and Walter Dean Myers, making the whole concept of poetry less daunting. Before long, Jack begins to think that poetry isn't quite as bad as he once thought, and he even finds inspiration for writing some of his own after reading the words of Myers, who plays a more pivotal role by the book's end. In between his musings and writing, Jack also provides glimpses into his day-to-day life, where the meaning behind the book's title becomes joyfully, then tragically, clear.

Jack's comments about the poems he is assigned to study are further illuminated by the inclusion of the full works at the back of the book. And while Creech does tackle some painful subject matter, the bulk of this tale is as fun-loving and free-spirited as Jack's own exploratory verse. If she's not careful, Creech may create a whole new generation of poetry lovers. (Beth Amos)

Publishers Weekly
"Creech examines the bond between a boy and his dog to create an ideal homage to the power of poetry and those who write it," said PW in a boxed review. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
If poetry is the power of few words, then Love That Dog by Newbery Award-winning novelist Sharon Creech is a delightful poem of a novel. On the surface, it is the poetry journal of a boy named Jack. The journal entries begin September 13th and, over the course of a school year, not only do they demonstrate the emergence of a talented young poet but also reveal a secret about Jack's life. Why does Jack not want to write about his yellow dog and why does "so much depend" on a "blue car/ spattered with mud/ speeding down a road"? Although Jack is skeptical at first because "boys/ don't write poetry./ Girls do," his jewel of a teacher, Miss Stretchberry, is gradually able to engage him in reading and writing poetry. Her name alone suggests a talented and sensitive teacher who is able to "stretch" a child's emotional and intellectual growth. Jack's weekly responses to her lessons and letters to him are humorous and believable. The book could easily be used in elementary classrooms in conjunction with a poetry unit. Creech, a talented poet and teacher herself, demonstrates a deep understanding of how young minds open to poetry through reading and responding. Journaling for Jack is obviously therapeutic. His journal entries get progressively longer and more confident. Wonderful poems by poets like William Carlos Williams, William Blake, Robert Frost, Arnold Adoff, and especially Walter Dean Myers convince Jack that poetry is not just for girls. Lines from these poems inspire and inform Jack's writing, and when Myers actually comes to talk to Miss Stretchberry's class, Jack comes down with a serious case of hero worship. He wants to "keep Mr. Walter Dean Myers . . . forever." Jack's poem "Lovethat Dog" is inspired by Myers's "Love That Boy" (Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse, HarperCollins, 1993): Love that dog, / like a bird loves to fly / I said I love that dog / like a bird loves to fly / Love to call him in the morning / love to call him / "Hey there, Sky!" When, at the end, he is able to proudly send Myers his poem, it is obvious that Jack has found his inner voice. The cover art by William Steig is eye-catchingly different and startlingly apt, a visual haiku. With its simple black sketch of a lop-eared dog on a yellow background, it could easily be something a child might have drawn for a book report. Although Love That Dog is intended for eight- to twelve-year-olds, poetry lovers of all ages will enjoy this book. So, with inspiration from Myers and Creech, I would like to conclude with this recommendation: Love this book, / like a boy loves his dog, / I said I love this book / like a boy loves his dog, / love to read this book / like a salad loves a carrot, / love to recommend it / as a Five Owls' Book of Merit. 2001, Joanna Cotler, 112 pages, Lindow
Children's Literature
Newbery-winning author, Sharon Creech, uses verse in Love That Dog At first, Jack, the narrator of the book, is skeptical about poetry. He begins, "I don't want to/because boys/don't write poetry. /Girls do." He's a bit more open in his second entry, "I tried. /Can't do it. /Brain's empty." In a believable sequence of poems, Jack comes to appreciate poets like William Carlos Williams and Robert Frost and his interpretations of their work give glimpses into his tender heart and clever mind and we know why his teacher works so hard to draw him out. By the story's end he has been captured by the power of poetry, and inspired by the work of Walter Dean Myers. Jack writes a poignant poem about his beloved dog. Poetry is the perfect vehicle for a book about a boy's acceptance and imitations of this genre. The poems mirror and guide his creativity and courage to risk. In under 100 pages of short verses, the author exposes children to some wonderful poems and tracks Jack's journey into artistry with the very form that speaks to him. 2001, HarperCollins, $14.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
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.
Child Magazine
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick

Written entirely in free verse, this slender novel by Newbery-medalist Creech paints a poignant picture of a boy who is reluctant at first to try his hand at poetry: "I don't want to/because boys/don't write poetry/Girls do."

Kirkus 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)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.50(d)
1010L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Love That Dog


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

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

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
a blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road.

October 10

What do you mean'
Why does so much depend
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 soundedgood
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

October 31

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 yellow board.

(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
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?

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?

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
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,
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

Love That Dog. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty 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. “Moo was inspired by our mutual love of Maine and by our granddaughter’s involvement in a local 4-H program. We have all been enchanted with the charms of cows.”

Brief Biography

Pennington, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
July 29, 1945
Place of Birth:
Cleveland, Ohio
B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

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