|The Barnes & Noble Review|
Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech tells a moving, amusing, and heartwarming tale in Love That Dog, a story written in freewheeling prose disguised as poetry. And poetry is something that young Jack can't stand -- it's confusing and odd and strictly for girls. But he can't seem to escape it, since his teacher insists on giving out assignments that require him to read and write the stuff. When he creates his own poetry and the teacher wants to post it on a board for the class to see, Jack insists on anonymity. But once he sees how good his poetry looks typed out in neat letters on yellow paper and hears approbation from his peers, he finally lays claim to his work.
As Jack struggles with his aversion to poetry, he finds delight in some unexpected places -- poems written in specific shapes, phrases he particularly likes, or images he can easily relate to. When he dissects the poems he is assigned to read, he provides his own childlike insight to the words of such literary greats as Robert Frost, William Blake, and Walter Dean Myers, making the whole concept of poetry less daunting. Before long, Jack begins to think that poetry isn't quite as bad as he once thought, and he even finds inspiration for writing some of his own after reading the words of Myers, who plays a more pivotal role by the book's end. In between his musings and writing, Jack also provides glimpses into his day-to-day life, where the meaning behind the book's title becomes joyfully, then tragically, clear.
Jack's comments about the poems he is assigned to study are further illuminated by the inclusion of the full works at the back of the book. And while Creech does tackle some painful subject matter, the bulk of this tale is as fun-loving and free-spirited as Jack's own exploratory verse. If she's not careful, Creech may create a whole new generation of poetry lovers. (Beth Amos)