4.11.2011

Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech, 125 pp, RL 4

Published in 2008, Hate That Cat finds Jack a year older and Miss Stretchberry teaching a new grade - his! I didn't think that  Sharon Creech could add to or improve upon Love That Dog, but she does, and how. Adding layers to Jack's story, Creech includes more poetry, poetic terminology, verse novels and, once again, Mr. Walter Dean Myers! As Jack, committed cat hater, writes after learning that Mr Myers owns a cat and that his grown son, Christopher Myers has written a book called Black Cat

                                        I felt like
                                        Mr Walter Dean Myers'
                                        whole family
                                        must be in my brain.

Creech also introduces the character of Uncle Bill, a college professor who, besides being allergic to cats, has opinions about poetry and William Carlos Williams, specifically.

                                        Uncle Bill says Mr WCW
                                        is a "minor poet"
                                        and
                                        a "foe poet"
                                        (later my dad explained
                                        he meant faux
                                        which means "fake")
                                        and I said

                                        "what about the 
                                        'so much depends upon'
                                        poem
                                        and the plum poems?
                                        (which are stuck in my head
                                        and I can say them from memory)

                                        and Uncle Bill said
                                        "Tuh! Overrated, highly
                                        overrated!"

But, Uncle Bill is the least of Jack's worries. As he continues to expand and improve as a poet (in Hate That Cat Jack's poems are included in the back of the book with others by the likes of TS Eliot, Edgar Allan Poe and Tennyson) he begins to think more about words and for a very specific reason that becomes clear as the story unfolds. 

                                         OCTOBER 12

                                         Something I have been wondering:
                                         if you cannot hear
                                         do words have no sounds
                                         in your head?

                                         Do you see
                                         a
                                                   silent
                                                                   movie?

Jack's mother and her deafness become an important plot thread in Hate That Cat, adding yet another layer of thought and understanding to the crafting of poems. There are cats in this book, but for me they took a backseat to the other things going on in Jack's life. Once again, I was moved and amazed at the way Creech can create such vivid characters and such a profound story with so few words. I was excited by the new ideas, poets and poems that influenced Jack's work and once again grateful to Creech for letting young readers know, through Jack and his poems, that it is perfectly acceptable to write in the style of poets you admire. I am going to end this review with a poem of Jack's to Miss Stretchberry, which also happens to be the exact sentiments I would express to Ms Creech if I were to write her a poem.

                                            MAY 2

                                           Thank you thank you thank you
                                           for showing me all the books
                                           of cat poems
                                           and all the books
                                           that tell a story
                                           in 
                                           poems.
                                           I never knew 
                                           a writer could do that-
                                           tell a whole story 
                                           in 
                                           poems.

                                           I already read the one
                                           by Mr Robert Cormier
                                           (alive?)
                                           and next 
                                           by my bed is
                                           the dust book by
                                           Ms Karen Hesse
                                           (alive?)
                                           and underneath that one
                                           is the Essie and Amber one
                                           by Ms Vera B Williams
                                           (alive?)
                                           and on my bulletin board
                                           is a list you gave me
                                           of so many poets
                                           whose books I can read
                                           and also on my bulletin board
                                           is the funny poem-picture
                                           of the cat chair
                                           by Mr Chris Raschka
                                           (alive?)
                                           and that poem 
                                           by Mr Lee Bennet Hopkins
                                           (alive?)
                                           about growing up
                                           to
                                           be
                                           a
                                           writer.

                                           I now have
                                           a treasure of words
                                           in 
                                           my 
                                           room.





Here is a pertinent Spine Poem from 100 Scope Notes contributed by Elizabeth W.



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