Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hate That Cat

By Sharon Creech
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Jack is back. Remember him from 'Love That Dog'? In that book, Jack was learning about poetry from his awesome teacher, Miss Stretchberry. Using classic poems, Miss Stretchberry taught Jack to love poetry and encouraged him to try writing it. Not only did Jack discover he was a pretty good poet, but the poems gave him an outlet for sharing the grief he felt over losing his dog, Sky.

In 'Hate That Cat', another year is here and Jack and Miss Stretchberry are back together. They have moved up a grade, but Miss Stretchberry is still teaching poetry using classic poems. Jack keeps a poetry journal again, but this year he has more to ponder. He's tormented by a cat on his way to school which is why he hates cats. At least he thinks he does until Miss Stretchberry brings her new kitten to class. Jack' s uncle has expressed his opinion of what poetry is and isn't, leaving Jack to ponder the question himself. As Jack listens to the poems Miss Stretchberry reads, he hears their rhythm and beat, feels their cadence and pulse. He plays with rhythm in his own poems, but he still wonders about rhythm for those who can't hear. Slowly, poem by poem, Jack reveals why he's concerned and once again, we learn something about someone very close to Jack that he can only share best through his poetry.

Even though 'Hate That Cat' continues where 'Love That Dog' left off, it can be read and enjoyed on its own. More classic poems are included and used as writing models, making 'Hate That Cat' an excellent book to use with poetry units. Jack's confidence in his writing has grown between the two books and it shows, both in what he writes and in his discussions about poetry with his uncle. The questions Jack asks about the hearing and non-hearing worlds are good for classroom discussions and will stay with readers long after the book is finished. Read what inspired Sharon Creech to continue Jack's story on her website here.

Sadly, there is no reference to Miss Stretchberry's brownies in 'Hate That Cat' . I hope she's still bringing them in once in a while for Jack's class to enjoy as she did in 'Love That Dog'. I wonder how many teacher she's inspired to do the same over the years!

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