Ok, I confess. All the books I review are the ones that I can personally relate to. I actually don’t know how to write about a book that does not affect me in some personal way. This is one such book that made me all nostalgic and teary eyed for a while before I could write about it. Love that Dog by Sharon Creech is my first Creech book. I picked up Hate that cat and the Newbery Medal winner, Walk Two Moons after reading and falling in love with this one. This yellow paperback was a finalist for the 2001 Carnegie Medal.
The book is extemely well written in a style that I have never come across before. It is apparently called Free Verse. If you have not come across the term and are the type of person who is uncomfortable admitting it, then do what I do – google it quickly before someone else finds out.
In a nutshell, the book is about a boy called Jack, a blue car, his yellow dog that passed away and how he struggles to write poetry. The book is treated in a way where you can actually only read one side of a conversation (the boy’s) between the boy and his teacher (who BTW has the sweetest name). Each chapter is a like an entry in a journal and it travels in stages. This heart wrenching yet inspiring story is about one boy’s triumphant journey over personal fears to become a successful poet.
What I love about the book is all the mystery that Creech managed to pack into it. Through the book you are left guessing what the other person must be saying with hints from the boy’s answer. Also, Jack often talks about a poem that he has read but never really states the poet or the title of the poem which again leaves you guessing. Occassionally, he mentions a few lines like “miles to go before I sleep” – ring a bell?
For me personally the impact was in the fact that the book gave me the confidence to keep writing. Just like Jack, I was afraid of showing people my writing. I believed my writing was never good enough because in school we would read Shakespeare or T.S Eliot. I realised I could never write like them or even just the girl sitting next to me in class. To add to that they trained us to soak up terms like
Jeez…..how were we to cover all that AND write like THE BARD. I sometimes wonder if these formats were developed from different kinds of writing or did writers really write keeping these formts in mind. If it is the latter, I better break the nib (in this case just pull out all the keys of my laptop).
So, thanks to Sharon Creech for setting me free from all those fears and mind blocks. Honestly, good writing is beautiful in any form. It does not need so much structure and disciplining. As long as the thought comes through and the audience understand it, who cares. On that note, I do wish that more books like this would be included in the school curriculum to inspire kids to write.
Who can read it: 8 to 12 years ( and adults who love reading and dogs)
What can you take away: Poetry is not just for girls.
And yes I did cry for the dog 😥