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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I like almost everything about the poetry/novel HateThat Cat. Almost everything.

Creech, Sharon (2008) Hate That Cat  London:  Bloomsbury.

 
The impetus for this book was a poem by Walter Dean Meyers:
 
Love that Boy
 
Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, son!"
 
Fellow Trinity Professor (and voracious reader) Mark Peters recommended Creech's book to me.  It is actually the sequel to Love that Dog (which I haven't read) , but that doesn't really matter because it is quite a wonderful book.  The story is told through a series of poems written by a grade school student for his teacher, Mrs. Stretchberry.  The poems are a delightful exploration of what it means to be a kid, about what it means to grow to love a pet, and what exactly poetry is anyway.  The protagonist grows in confidence as a poet and learns to not only not hate cats, but to actually love them (or at least one in particular).  
 
The poetry is good, the story is interesting, and by the end, the book may well convince some kids who think they hate poetry that actually it isn't a bad thing.  But I do have a small bone to pick with it.  There is a character in the book, the protagonist's professor uncle, who is referred to in this way:
 
"Although ... my Uncle Bill
who is a teacher
in a college
said those words I wrote
about Sky [his dog]
were NOT poems.
He said they were just
words
coming
out
of
my
head
and that a poem has to rhyme
and have regular meter
and SYMBOLS and METAPHORS
and onomoto-something and
alliter-something.
 
And I wanted
to
punch him."
 
As a professor who sometimes teachers creative writing and who happens to be named Bill, I would like to point out that the main character's Uncle Bill must have not studied any poetry after the 1940s and probably needs to consider a career change immediately.  Frankly, I wanted to punch Uncle Bill too. He is giving professors a bad name.
 
Having said that, this is a good book.  The poetry is easy to read, the book will move swiftly (a bonus for struggling readers), and will hold the reader's attention.  I think it would be ideal for fourth grade and up (maybe third grade, I am not sure).
 

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Hate that Cat and Love that Dog both so much. I do them with my Language Acquisition class. We read all the poems in the back in class (adding one per day) with me before we read the book aloud together. I love watching them make connections to the poems while we read the book.

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