Love That Dog
London, Harper Collins, 2001, 86p
So I might have slightly shown my ignorance by raving about the originality of Sarah Crossan's The Weight of Water. It was a novel that defied categorisation, being both a novel and a series of poems. Poems are sometimes used to tell a story, but not in the way that novels tell stories. These books, however, succeed in both.
Love That Dog is about a school boy who refuses to believe he can write poems. Jack thinks boys can't write poems. His teacher introduces him to a variety of styles, and he attempts to mimic them. He talks about what he likes and what he doesn't like about the poems, slowly coming to the realisation that poetry can be whatever you want it to be.
I can't really recall first learning about poetry, but I imagine I felt a similar way to Jack. I remember always thinking that poetry was incredibly structured - it has to have rhyme and rhythm. Jack refers to William Blake's 'Tyger', noting the powerful and memorable sound of the beat. I remember knowing that certain types of poems had different rules, like sonnets were longer that limerick, but both needed a set number of beats per line.
But soon Jack comes across different types of poems. Poems without rhyme, with no structure. Poems about street music and real life experiences. Poems he can understand. He becomes inspired, and is entranced by the power of certain poets. It is a delight to read as he comes alive.
This is a sweet, uplifting story about the magic of the written word. Poetry is an incredible means of story-telling - I am stunned by how much can be expressed in just a few lines. In the same way that Jack was inspired through reading a range of poetry, I hope this novel sparks the writing bug in some budding young authors.