Poetry Friday: Love That Dog

Friday, October 14th, 2011

For this week’s Poetry Friday post, I’m taking a cue from my daughter who came home from school telling me about a poetry book they’d discussed in class.   “It’s called Love That Dog, Mom, and it’s all about a boy who hates writing poetry.” She told me rather cryptically.  I couldn’t quite make sense of what she was saying until I got the book in hand.   Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (Joanna Cotler Books, 2001) is indeed about a boy, Jack, who hates writing poetry and whose teacher, Miss Stretchberry, inspires him to write poems in spite of his initial dislike of them.  The story itself is simply told in poetic diary entries by Jack.  As Miss Stretchberry introduces well known poems to the class such as W.C. William’s famous wheelbarrow poem and Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,”  Jack’s diary entries slowly show his changing attitude towards the reading and writing of poetry; the diary, in fact, is a charting of the creative process of the boy.  The poetry unit of Miss Stretchberry ends with a visit by a poet, Walter Dean Myers, whose poem the class has studied and has personally inspired a poem written by Jack.

Love that Dog is wonderfully and cleverly written.   It’s an excellent introduction to poetry for elementary school age children.   The book also shows more subtly the creative process — what is involved in writing poetry, how one comes to write poems, how one deals with the public presentation of poems, how one edits, how one feels the influence of another poet, etc.   This revealing of the boy’s creative process I felt to be quite instructive and illuminating, especially for me as a creative writing teacher.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by David Elzey at Fomagrams.