The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Kenard Pak


91wuxf3ryul        The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Kenard Pak, Katherine Tegan Books, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229262-9

Format:  hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: magical realism

What did you like about the book? It’s difficult to pick up a new Patricia MacLachlan book without an intense sense of expectation. This short, poignant novel does not disappoint. Through the eyes of a dog named Teddy we meet two children who have become lost in a snowstorm. Teddy brings them to his home where readers gradually find out that he recently suffered a terrible loss. Teddy can speak, but only children and poets can understand him. It’s a bit difficult to classify this lovely story, or to choose an age group for it. It would be a perfect family or classroom read-aloud because it reaches across all ages. Although it is short, only 88 pages with fairly large margins, it does not read like an early chapter book. While young readers will enjoy the story of the dog and the children who come to love him, older, sensitive readers and adults will find it richly satisfying too. Anyone who is coping with the loss of someone they love should find a quiet solace here.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I would have liked to see the illustrator’s name on the cover and title page. I only found it on the copyright page. The illustrations are few, but they complement the story beautifully.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes? Recommend to anyone who loved Sarah Plain and Tall, or any of Patricia MacLachlan’s other books. Dog lovers might particularly appreciate her novel White Fur Flying.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries will want at least one copy of this book.

Where would you shelve it ?  Although the age range on the jacket says ages 6-10, I would shelve it in middle-grade fiction rather than with the early chapter books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: November 4, 2016

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