Creech, Sharon. 2001. Love That Dog. HarperCollins.
ISBN: 0-06-029287-3

This verse novel by Sharon Creech is never on the shelves in my school library.  Students love this book.  It is written in a way that kids identify with, and without complicated prose or language.  Many students like reading this book because it has a unique style in that it is written in verse.  Love That Dog may be a good first verse novel to expose children to.  

The book is written in a journal style format using dates as headings on each page.  The voice is child-friendly because it is from the point of view of Jack, a young boy who doesn't quite understand poetry and who has no intention of writing poems of his own.  Kids can relate to Jack because he has this lack of confidence in his voice as he talks about writing poems.  
Jack begins to see the poems with a fresh perspective as he discovers poems by famous writers. He even writes a letter to Walter Dean Myers.  This book is definitely worth the read.

Review Excerpts:  Horn Book, (Spring 2002) Jack's free-verse journal charts his evolution from doubt to delight in poetry.  His teacher introduces him to poetry and flatters him into believing he's a poet.  Jack finds a personal connection to poems.  

Booklist, (August 2001) This is a book for teachers to read aloud and talk about with kids.  Some of the poems Jack's teacher reads are appended, including Myer's "Love That Boy."

Extension:  After reading aloud Love That Dog to your students, invite students to write letters to some of the poets featured in the novel.  Jack chose to write Walter Dean Myers, but children may pick any of the poets from the book, like Robert Frost, Arnold Adoff, Valerie Worth.  

If you like Love That Dog, don't miss Sharon Creech's newest verse novel, Hate That Cat.

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