Monday, January 19, 2009

Simply a Superb Sequel: "Hate That Cat" by Sharon Creech

While strolling through Barnes and Noble this weekend, I was thrilled to see that Sharon Creech has written a sequel to my favorite children's book, "Love That Dog".

The new book, "Hate That Cat" is just as wonderful as her first book. I love these simple books as they bring together animals, poetry, teaching, and the struggles of boyhood in a very readable and entertaining way.

In "Hate That Cat" we have the same setup as the first book, we find that Miss Stretchberry moves up a grade so that she is still Jack's teacher. They still communicate through a poetry journal and Miss Stretchberry continues to use great poetry and poets (T. S. Eliot, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Edgar Allan Poe) to inspire her class.

The class learns about the sounds of poetry in this book through devices like alliteration and onomatopoeia. I was tickled to see that "The Bells" by Edgar Allen Poe was one of the featured poems. I used this poem for many years with my own class as a beginning point for writing "sound" poems and it is always fun to say the word "tintinnabulation". Seeing that it is the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe's birth this month, I will have to revisit this poem in my class. Another featured poem in this story that I always use in my class is "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams, as well as a return to his other wonderful poem "The Red Wheelbarrow". Although Walter Dean Myers doesn't return to visit the class, he does send letters to Jack and Jack learns that Walter Dean Myers' son, Christopher, is also a notable poet.

It is sounds that permeate this story. Besides the poetry, we are introduced to Jack's mother in this volume, and we learn about her inability to hear sounds and that becomes an important component to the story. That, and cats! The book may be titled "Hate That Cat" but Jack has his reasons. In the end the hated cat plays an important role and of course Jack falls in love with his own little kitten.

"Love That Dog" remains my favorite children's book, but "Love That Cat" will take a place right next to it on my bookshelf. I can't wait to share it with my class, and I know that I will see students rereading the book again and again just like they do after I read them "Love That Dog". I am simply thrilled that Sharon Creech wrote this second book!

Here is a teacher's guide to both books.

Here is just the first verse of:

The Bells
by Edgar Allan Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells,
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Listen to "The Bells"

Edgar Allen Poe - The Bells
Found at bee mp3 search engine

This is a strange and "Poe"ishly nightmarish version of "The Bells"

Edgar Allen Poe/Symphologic - The bells
Found at bee mp3 search engine

If you want a great book for children to introduce them to Edgar Allen Poe then get a copy of "Poetry for Young People: Edgar Allen Poe". It has an interesting mini-biography as well as his poems and in his case poetic pieces based on some of his stories. It has short introductions to each poem, pictures, and lots of definitions for the difficult vocabulary words. There are other similar books by the publisher about other poets that I have in my classroom covering poets such as: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and William Shakespeare . I still have to purchase the poetry books of William Blake, Carl Sandburg, Lewis Carrol, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes. These books are a great resource for both students and teachers.


PNaugle said...

Hello Jim,
I've been teaching fourth grade in a New Orleans suburban school for 33 years. I was directed to your blog from another site about Animoto, and stayed and looked around. I too love Sharon Creech's book Love That Dog, so I'm thrilled to learn about the sequel. I plan to use both during my poetry unit which I'll begin in about two weeks.

I signed up to follow your blog.
Your newest fan,
Paula Naugle
Bissonet Plaza
Metairie, LA 70003

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Paula,
Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed my blog. I checked out your classroom blog and enjoyed some of your class projects. I could do the "Monster Mash" one. It is the only song I can play on a guitar! I liked your birthday cards to Abraham Lincoln. Your class did a great job. I have never been to Lousiana, but my son who is in 12th grade has been there three times to do cleanup work after Katrina. He enjoys this type of work as he is in Galveston, Texas this week cleaning up after last year's hurricane. Your class will have fun with the two Sharon Creech books.