Love That Dog
About the Book
Published in 2001 by HarperCollins, Sharon Creech's novel Love That Dog has earned several awards, including Bank Street's Claudia Lewis Award for best poetry book of the year. Available in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook, the book is 112 pages long and is appropriate for both Transitional and Independent readers grades 3 and above.
Love That Dog is the story of a boy named Jack, his dog Sky, his teacher Miss Stretchberry, and poetry. This poetic novel chronicles Jack's journey to express his love, loss, and mourning for the dead Sky. At first Jack dislikes both reading and writing poetry. As the school year progresses, however, his enthusiasm for the genre grows: he not only reads but also writes poetry. At last, Walter Dean Myers's poem "Love That Boy" gives Jack a way to tell the whole story of his beloved Sky. Love that Dog demonstrates how children can express feelings through poetry and learn about themselves in the process.
About the Author
Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and of the Newbery Honor book The Wanderer. She is also the first American to be awarded the Carnegie Medal by Britain's Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, for Ruby Holler. Her novels and picture books for children often deal with themes of loss and abandonment, as well as with family relationships. Creech's first novel for children, Absolutely Normal Chaos, was based on her own large, boisterous family. She explains in her autobiography that she "learned to tell stories that wouldn't be forgotten in all of the commotion. I learned to exaggerate and embellish, because if you didn't, your story was drowned out by someone else's more exciting one." After almost two decades of teaching and writing in Europe, she and her husband have returned to the United States and live in New Jersey.
The questions below can help your group get started talking about Love That Dog. See the Summer 2004 issue of the Page Turner for tips on creating your own discussion questions.
- We only get Jack's side of the conversation and never what the teacher writes or says. Why?
- The form of Love That Dog is different from that of most stories; it's a kind of a journal with poems. Why do you think Creech choose to write it like this?
- Jack says, "Maybe the ... poet was just making a picture with words and someone else ... typed it up and then people though it was a poem because it looked like one typed up like that." Did Sharon Creech write poems for this book, or did the words become poetry because of the way they were typed?
- Jack says, "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." Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- What does "anonymous" mean? Why didn't Jack want his name on his poems? Have you ever wanted to share something you created but remain anonymous? Why?
- How did you feel after reading Jack's poem "My Sky" (p. 68)?
- Who is your favorite author or poet? What do you like about this writer's work?
- Did you have a favorite poem in Love That Dog? Why it was your favorite?
- Why is it poetry that finally allows Jack to share his sadness about his dog?
Book discussions are fun in and of themselves, but many children learn best by doing. Here are some activities for your group based on Love that Dog.
- Scholastic offers several activities to accompany Creech's work. Journals for Readers and Writers are one way for young people to capture their responses to her work in writingand this is also great practice in reading like a writer!
- Poetry can be loads of fun! If you have Internet access, encourage your book lovers to visit Giggle Poetry, which has the full text of many silly poems as well as fun activities, or Poetry Zone, which helps children write their own poetry.
- One of the kinds of poetry Miss Stretchberry shows Jack's class is a shape poem. Try writing your own shape poem.
- A teachers' guide to teaching Creech's works in literature circles offers additional suggestions for activities.
- Participants may be interested in reading other books by Sharon Creech.
For More Information
Check out the following websites to help you prepare for your book club discussion: