Review Blog

Nov 05 2009

Hate that cat by Sharon Creech

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Bloomsbury, ISBN 9780 747599807. 2009.
(Ages 8-12) Following the success of Love that dog, Creech has developed another story in verse form, set after Sky's death. Jack is in his old teacher's class again and Miss Stretchberry who loves poetry, asks the students to create a poem after telling them about metaphors and imagery and alliteration and onomatopoeia through the poems they read in class. Each of these words is modeled in the words Jack puts down on the page. He has an uneasy relationship with his Uncle Bill, a poetry teacher at a college, who insists that poems must rhyme and that what Jack is writing is not poetry.
But Jack persists. He tells the reader about some of the poems they read in class, TheRed Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams, The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson and The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, and these are emulated by Jack throughout the novel. As the story progresses, Jack tells how he hates cats, and is shocked when his teacher brings in her kittens. Little by little Jack's attitude to cats changes as he has more to do with the kittens and when his parents give him a kitten for Christmas, he is happy. A cloud appears however when the door is left open and the kitten escapes, only to be returned by the old stray who lives in the neighbourhood.
A delightful story, imbued with some well known and not so well known poems, this little book will be a hit with primary teachers looking for a model to use with their students. Students will easily fall for Jack and his dislike of cats and grow with him as he finds that they are not so bad after all. The modeling of the styles of poetry of Myers, Williams, Poe and Tennyson is a lovely touch, making their poetry more accessible to the young audience but also giving a neat way of teaching poetry in the middle primary to lower secondary classroom.
The last 20 pages of the book are filled with the poems talked of, including some by Jack, and the last 4 pages has a list of the poetry books kept in Miss Stretchberry's classroom. Both make a most useful addition to the book.
Fran Knight

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