Story Time Recommendations by Mrs. Smith: ‘Love That Dog’

July 20, 2023

Love That Dog,” by American writer and Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech, is an amusing, loveable story about a second-grade boy who discovers a hidden potential through the power of poetry. 

The book is composed of multiple short chapters, a series of free-verse journal entries, dated throughout the school year, written from Jack’s perspective. 

When the school year begins, struggling seven-year-old Jack, who’s in Room 105, tells his teacher Miss Stretchberry that he hates poetry. He has no desire to write it because “only girls” write poetry. He doesn’t understand poetry, and every time he tries to write it, “his brain is empty.” 

As Miss Stretchberry continues giving her class poetry assignments, Jack knows he can’t avoid them. With the help and encouragement of his teacher, a pencil, some yellow paper, and of course, a dog, something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say after all. 

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Throughout the year, his entries reflect his emotional feelings and intellectual thoughts on a variety of subjects, such as relationships and grief, and his writing progresses from short and defiant sentences to complex pieces.

One poem in particular (which inspired the author to write this book) attracts Jack’s attention, and in the spring he writes to the famous poet. He is surprised when Walter Dean Myers not only responds but visits Jack’s class. The poem and the visit helped Jack craft (and attribute) his entry on June 6, dealing with the death of his beloved yellow dog named Sky. 

The book includes an appendix with a partial listing of the classic poems that Miss Stretchberry shares with her class, including those written by William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, William Blake, and Valerie Worth.

Since its publication (2001), the book has become a favorite of children and adults alike. This book teaches simple elements of poetry and encourages students to craft their words as they follow along with Jack and his teacher on their journey through the school year. 

Creech also penned “Hate That Cat (2008), in which we find Jack now in classroom 204 with Miss Stretchberry, learning more about the art and craft of poetry and “one mean fat black cat.” 

Print and audio books are available individually or as a set. 

Recommended for Grades 4-8 (yet appropriate for all ages), as they too wonder how poetry and schoolwork connect with their interests and how to uncover their true voices.

Doris Smith worked in the Bedford Public Schools from 1967-2001 as the elementary school librarian covering, at that time, all four schools: Center, Davis, Lane, and Page. She was later the full-time librarian at the Lane School. She also worked for about five years as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Library Association. She continues to pursue her interest in art.

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Doris Smith is an Arts and Cultural Reporter for The Bedford Citizen. She was supported by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council from December 2022 - June 2023.

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