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Book Club Kits: Love That Dog

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Jack doesn't care much for poetry, writing it or reading it. With the prodding of his teacher, though, he begins to write poems of his own — about a mysterious blue car, about a lovable dog. Slowly, he realizes that his brain isn't "empty" and that he can write poems. After meeting one of his favorite writers, Walter Dean Meyers, Jack writes a special poem about a painful experience in his life, the death of his dog. By the end of the book, Jack realizes that writing and reading poetry is not only pleasurable, but that writing can be a way of dealing with painful memories. Instead of trying to forget those difficult experiences, he can make something creative out of them.

Discussion Questions

1. Jack doesn't want to write poetry at the beginning of the book. Why doesn't he want to?

2. In Jack's first poem, he writes:
So much depends
a blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road.

Why was the blue car important to Jack?

3. What caused Miss Strechberry to be so interested in Jack's first poem? Describe what Miss Strechberry does to get Jack to write more poems, especially about the blue car.

4. How does Jack respond when Miss Strechberry asks him to write about a pet? Why do you think Miss Strechberry insists Jack write the poem despite his reaction?

5. What are Jack's feelings toward Sky? Make a list of details from the book that describes Jack's feelings toward his dog.

6. Jack changes a great deal in the novel. Think about these changes. Then create a two-column chart with two headings: "Beginning of school year" and "End of school year." Under each heading, list examples of the things Jack does, thinks, and says in the beginning of the year compared to the end of the year.

7. Imagine Miss Strechberry has just asked Jack to write an essay telling what he has discovered about poetry and how it can change a person's life. What would the essay say?

8. Sky's death affected Jack deeply. If you had just lost a much-loved pet, what things could you, or other people, do to help you cope with the loss? Create a list of ideas.


9. Miss Strechberry is able to convince Jack to write poetry and share his feelings even though he doesn't want to. Point out the qualities Miss Strechberry has as a person, and as a teacher, that allow her to reach Jack.

10. Why does Jack fall in love with Walter Dean Myers' poetry? What effect does Mr. Myers' visit to the school have on Jack? How do you know?

11. There are many ways a poet can paint a picture in a reader's mind with words. They include similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, and more. Find examples of the techniques the poets use in Love That Dog. As a group, choose three verses from the novel that created the most vivid pictures.

12. Did reading Love That Dog change your point of view about poetry? In what ways? Explain your answer.

13. At the end of the book, the author includes poems by seven famous American poets. Which poem did you like the best, and why?

About the Author

Known for writing with a classic voice and unique style, Sharon Creech is the bestselling author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons, and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. She is also the first American in history to be awarded the CILIP Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler. Her other works include the novels Love That Dog,Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, andPleasing the Ghost, and two picture books: A Fine, Fine School andFishing in the Air. These stories are often centered around life, love, and relationships — especially family relationships. Growing up in a big family in Cleveland, Ohio, helped Ms. Creech learn 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."