Love that Dog is a book that tells a story about a young boy called Jack who is asked to write poetry by Miss Stretchberry, his teacher. Unfortunately, Jack is unhappy about the assignment because he says, “boys do not write poetry .”He believes writing poetry is for girls and thinks he cannot write. The book focuses much on Jack, an insecure boy who realizes that he has a remarkable ability to write poems and needs to have more confidence in himself and his work (Super summary n.p). Jack starts by explaining to Miss Stretchberry that boys do not write poems and that he has no desire to write poetry. He begins by not understating the importance of some classic poems that Miss Stretchberry read to them and starts to imitate them just for fun. However, Jack is shocked when his teacher asks him to put one of his poems on the blackboard. At first, Jack refuses, but Miss Stretchberry convinces him on another poem (Joseph Howe Elementary 3:20-3:23). As his exposure to poetry continues, he then starts to write more poems put on the board for the class to see. Eventually, Jack opens up and starts to tell a story about Sky, his dog that had died. Although he feels embarrassed, he allows Miss Stretchberry to put his name on the poem and is pleased by the compliments from his classmates. Miss Stretchberry requests Jack to write to Mr. Walter Dean Meyers and ask him to visit the school. Mr. Walter wrote a poem, “Love that Boy,” which Jack imitated. However, Jack writes back without expecting Mr. Walter to care about a young schoolboy. Delightedly, Mr. Walter comes to their school, and the rest of the class enjoys poetry. This essay seeks to analyze and reflect on the Love that Dog. It explores what I have learned in Love That Dog while mapping its structure in the plot triangle. It will explore the new ideas I have acquired about some characters like Jack, the conflict with Jack, and the book’s theme.
“I do not want to because boys do not write poetry. Girls do.” (Creech 1)
Jack is the protagonist through which the readers experience the story. Even though he has not confirmed his age, his speech and classroom description show he is a “late elementary school student. However, at first, Jack demonstrates a stubborn exterior that comes from insecurities. He disregards the instructions of Miss Stretchberry based on the lack of entry content (super summary n.p). He showed his deep insecurities when he gave his poem to his teacher. “Do you promise / not to read it / out loud? / Do you promise / not to put it / on the board? / Okay, here it is, / but I do not like it” (Joseph Howe Elementary 3:20-3:30). he is afraid of the comments and opinions from his classmates. Either way, he works hard to overcome all his insecurities and steps out of his comfort zone. As his confidence increased, his writing skills enhanced. I have learned that Jack is a character by which many individuals reflect themselves. Like Jack, many people stay safe in their comfort zone and do not allow others to see their full potential, fearing being criticized. I have realized that people fear criticism forgetting that it is through that criticism that they may unravel their full potential. In addition, I now understand that compliments push people to go far. Even though Jack did not believe in himself, his classmates’ compliments gave him more confidence. Indeed, many people today need to be cheered and complimented for them to go far. We all have talents, but we fear people’s opinions.
The conflict in Love That Dog is that Jack’s dog dies, and Jack is unhappy about it. Also, Jack has no confidence in his poetry, which results in conflict in decision-making. He is fighting with himself to overcome his shyness in poetry and the heartbreak he got from his dog’s death. Jack has no confidence in the poems that he writes. He has an inner conflict about whether his teacher should write the poem on the blackboard or not. Also, he fears the teacher putting his name on his poem. Later, Jack gets more confident with his teacher’s help and allows her to put his poem on the board without a name (super summary n.p). After realizing everyone admires his poem, he accepts to put his name on the poem. After analyzing Jack’s insecurities, I realized that everyone has the potential to do that one thing. However, we do not have confidence and do not believe in ourselves, which is why we hide those talents and gifts. I believe people should push themselves and not wait to be pushed to be better.
“Sometimes, when you are trying not to think about something, it keeps popping back in your head; you can’t help it; you think about it and think about it and think about it until your brain feels like a squashed pea.” (Creech 8)
As the book suggests, Love is the central theme in the story. The dog is what is at the heart of the story. At first, we glimpse the relationship between Jack and his Dog Sky as he reluctantly reveals the story through a poem. However, as his writings develop, we learn what happened to Sky. Jack’s revelation about Sky will carry out a child who has lost a pet. Poetry is another theme that is explored in the story. One can realize that the story tries to show the process of mastering poetry skills. At first, Jack did not like poetry and knew he could not write one. However, it takes him confidence and guidance to move a step ahead. The book, therefore, tells that anyone can write poetry as long as they believe in themselves and stop hiding their potential. Creech is fighting with grand themes of feelings and emotions. Creech introduces children to the magic of poetry. He explains what it takes for the children to realize their self-expression and the impact that role models and teachers can have on teachers, together with the tragic loss of a pet. Jack’s words would easily be a punch of disjointed emotions and words on a paper that lack real impact and cohesion (super summary n.p). However, things are different with Creech; “Love that Dog” pulls things flawlessly. Therefore, he shows that sharing our stories can bring great things. Therefore, I believe that no matter the situation, I can find my voice with the help of others, just like Miss Stretchberry, who helped Jack understand poetry.
“I don’t understand the poem about the red wheelbarrow and the white chickens and why so much depends upon them.” (Creech 3)
In conclusion, Love that dog is a story that combines both tragedy and comedy. The story talks about the journey Jack to love poetry. The journey tales form through free verse journal entries. Even though Jack initially scoffs at the idea of writing poems, he later realizes the value of his voice. It is a book that encourages the young and everyone to come out of their comfort zone and work hard. I have learned that criticism is part of what makes one grow; therefore, people should take much consideration while being criticized. Readers should care about this book because it teaches them and encourages them to think differently. Also, I have learned that no matter the strategies the teacher uses to help students appreciate poetry, it is vital for them to challenge their perception. The story also helps students to understand poetry and its motivation better. Also, I have learned that everyone can write poetry. It is not just bound to a specific individual; therefore, working extra hard makes one perfect. It is fascinating how poetry can tell stories. Jack tells a story about his dog through poetry; although sad, it is a fascinating way of expressing oneself. In addition, people of all ages can read and love this book. The book is also helpful to all the teachers who teach poetry.
Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog. HarperTrophy, 2008.
Joseph Howe Elementary, director. Love That Dog. Video, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhWVXh9ARLI.
Super summary. “Love That Dog.” Supersummary, 2022, https://www.supersummary.com/love-that-dog/summary/.