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We had another post planned for today; then over the weekend one of the beloved dogs in our lives died. And for that Lisa (Cadow), her husband, and her family of grown children, things just sort of stopped. For those of you who have experienced the death of a pet you may understand how different your life is when they are gone. For those who have not, you may not understand the grief someone can feel over an animal. For both of those categories, there is Love That Dog, a book that has become our go-to gift to give to people grieving pets (and for other reasons such as is a very good book). Because it is an older title (first published in 2001), it occurred to us that maybe some of our readers missed it, or forgot about it. So today, we review Love That Dog in honor and memory of Pompy (and his amazing humans).
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (2001). First, do not let the fact this is a book written for children fool you; this book is for everyone. The plot begins with the "fact" that Jack hates poetry, and another "fact" that his teacher Mrs. Stretchberry keeps insisting he and his fellow classmates write poetry in many, many assignments. Despite his best efforts to avoid these assignments, there does not seem to be a way out of this "poetry thing" for Jack. Eventually, he gives in, starts writing, and discovers things such as:
"I guess it does
look like a poem
when you see it
He also discovers he has some important things to share and say. He then learns, to his dismay and then his delight, that poetry just might be the perfect way for him to process some things he's been denying.
Love That Dog is written in poetry form, meaning fewer words per page than in a typical chapter book. This makes it both more accessible for some reluctant readers, and inspirational for budding poets.
Readers also get a poetry lesson or two because Ms. Creech allows us to see Jack's class assignments calling for responses to eight well known poems from various poets (e.g., William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Walter Dean Myers). The full poems are included in an appendix. We promise that is not as boring as it sounds.
We want to emphasize this is just a very good story - no matter its form, topic, or intentions. We think you will fall in love with Jack, Mrs. Stretchberry for insisting children can be poets, any pets in your life, and Newberry Medal Award winning author Sharon Creech. As The New York Times said in their review of this book 20-something years ago, “Sharon Creech has achieved more than one impressive feat here.” We think this book is a great reminder at any time, and perhaps especially in times of grief, that pain and joy often exist side by side. ~ Lisa Christie