I don’t understand
the poem about
the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
and why so much
depends upon 


And you said that
Mr. Robert Frost
who wrote
about the pasture
was also the one
who wrote about 
those snowy woods
and the miles to go
before he sleeps—

I think Mr. Robert Frost
has a little
on his


Love That Dog is a novel for adolescents written by Sharon Creech and distributed by Scholastic. Like Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw, this book takes the form of a kid’s correspondence—in this case, Jack is writing to his teacher, Miss Stretchberry. Like Karen Hesse’s 1998 Newbery Medal winner, Out of the Dust, the book is written entirely in verse.

Each page or two of the book is dated at the top, and contains that day’s reaction to the poetry lesson:

September 13

I don’t want to
because boys
don’t write poetry. 

Girls do.


October 24

I am sorry to say
I did not really understand
the tiger tiger burning bright poem
but at least it sounded good
in my ears. 


October 31 

you can put
the two blue-car poems
on the board 
but only if
you don’t put
my name 
on them. 


November 6

They look nice
typed up like that
on blue paper
on a yellow board.

(But still don’t tell anyone
who wrote them, okay?)

(And what does anonymous mean?
Is it good?)


Over the course of the school year, Jack responds to the poems Miss Stretchberry shows the class, and eventually opens up and shares, through his poetry, a very meaningful event in his life. In the spring, a real live poet, Walter Dean Myers, comes to visit his class, and read some of his poetry to them:


in my whole life 
heard anybody
who could talk
like that
Mr. Walter Dean Myers. 

All of my blood
in my veins
was bubbling 
and all of the thoughts
in my head
were buzzing
I wanted to keep
Mr. Walter Dean Myers
at our school


Love That Dog doesn’t take long to read; one of my students brought it to me because she thought it would make me cry, and I read it that afternoon, in between classes. I did cry. But I cry at Hallmark commercials. Lets just say that Ms. Creech does a more-than-sufficient job of developing characters and creating a plot with enough suspense, that one feels invested in what happens.

Because it is a quick read, a page turner, this is a good book for kids with short attention spans—-and I would certainly give it to any child in whom I was trying to encourage an interest in poetry. In the back of the book are the poems by William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, William Blake, and other poets introduced to Jack’s class by Miss Stretchberry. There are even writing activities and Literature Circle questions, keyed to Bloom’s taxonomy, no less. So this book qualifies as a good teaching tool—-but more than that, it’s a good story, told in an engaging manner.

A quick search of Barnes and Noble turned up 155 books by Walter Dean Myers. Wow.

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