Hate That Cat
by Sharon Creech (2008)
Another quick poetry novel from Sharon Creech. A sequel to Love That Dog. Can they be read together, in succession? You bet. We recommend it.
Creech returns the erstwhile poet, young Jack, to his class with Miss Stretchberry – who exposes him to simple, famous poetry (e.g. William Carlos Williams) and asks him to write some back. Employing the lessons he learned in Love That Dog, he is less resistant – but equally successful.
In this case, Jack explores his purported antipathy for cats – while really continuing his discovery of and appreciation for language, vocabulary, turns of phrase – all the elegance that poetry can provide. He also uses poetry again to develop and express his feelings.
It is Creech’s genius to use Jack to slow down the reader’s own ability to acknowledge, appreciate, and concentrate on felicitous turns of phrase – “…even though it is fun/to imagine/a purple pickle/a polished pencil/and chocolate chalk” – the bread and butter of poetry.
When Jack learns about tintinnabulation via Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells,” he responds by racing to describe his world through active gerunds and participles. But readers/listeners/students too are able to learn not just the vocabulary of poetry (not the point of the book) – but to see and hear and investigate language with the attention and focus of poets.
Reading Sharon Creech provides a sly Language Arts microscope into the world – and emotion – of finely wrought language and writing – via poetry.