The Poet’s Dog

As winter is upon us, I am once again drawn to the best book, The Poet’s Dog.  Fall in love with a dog, a poet, and children- magnificently written, through the voice of the dog.  A winter storm has arrived here in New England, so yes, I’ll be reading this book.

“Dogs speak words.  But only poets and children hear.”

Those are the opening words in Patricia MacLachlan’s book, The Poet’s Dog.  I have read the book twice, because there are many words not to be missed; words that are pure and don’t need added adjectives and text.  MacLachlan’s writing stands alone in a field of masterful literature.  Her eighty-eight pages are some of the best I have ever read.  In the words of the publisher:

“Alone in a fierce winter storm, Nickel and Flora are brave but afraid.  A dog finds them.  Teddy speaks words and brings them to shelter.  The Poet’s cabin has light and food and love.  But where is the poet?  Teddy will tell the story of how words make poems and connect to those who hear each other.”

Sylvan the poet constantly reads to Teddy.  He reads Yeats and Shakespeare.  He also reads Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Ox Cart Man.  Teddy learns how words follow one another.

I had no idea that Ox Cart Man, one of my favorite children’s books, is actually a poem.  I scrambled to find my copy and read the words again, this time seeing the words for what they are meant to be – a poem.  When I read the book again to my preschoolers this month, it will be more beautiful than ever.

The Poet’s Dog is a story of adventure, survival, love and friendship, death, reading and poetry.  The beginning is a fishing line that hooks the reader, and the ocean opens to… well, you will have to read the book  The ending is as surprising as ever.

I told a friend and fellow teacher about The Poet’s Dog and quoted to her the first lines, “Dogs speak words.  But only poets and children hear.” Our conversation went something like this:

“I hear my cat.  I know what she’s saying.”

“Then you must be either a child or a poet.”

“I’m a child.  My heart is always a child.  And I love poetry.”

She smiled a knowing smile.  I did, too.


P.S. Dogs: Maddie, Ollie, Ani, Twiggy and Lucy… and more – tell your human to read this book.  This is your second reminder, so be firm this time.  Really!

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, chapter reading, Dogs, Imagination, joy, Kindness, Love, Particia MacLachlan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

107 Responses to The Poet’s Dog

  1. Ritu says:

    Great recommendation Jennie!😍

  2. GP Cox says:

    Thanks for the new reminder, it sounds like a book adults would enjoy too.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i’m going to read this, i’ve never heard of it. thanks!

  4. beetleypete says:

    OK, Ollie heard you, Jennie. 🙂
    (It’s on the wish list.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. srbottch says:

    Great review. I’ll get it to read…if I can ever get out of my driveway. Yes, big snows here, too. Stay warm and cozy with your book(s).

  6. Opher says:

    I’m not familiar with this one Jennie but I love the whole idea of it! I will have to get it!

  7. Dan Antion says:

    I will have to read this book, Maddie agrees. Our animals speak to us all the time.

  8. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, what are you doing to me?! 😀😀 You beautiful book recommendations have me adding books to borrow from the library … and I don’t even have a little one to share them with! This sounds beautiful and I can’t wait to read it … from the cover the illustrations look sublime too. Many thanks from sharing and here is to always retaining the child within us! (And for those blessed with the gift -poet!) hugs xx 🌺🤗

    • Jennie says:

      Annika, on this book, I believe it is really far more than a book for children. Adults are moved beyond words, and the ending is outstanding. So, I’m glad you’re planning on reading it! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 And, may the child in us flourish!

  9. ren says:

    Now I understand why some people cannot hear what the animals say. Thanx Jennie!

  10. Darlene says:

    I love Patricia MacLachlan’s books. I’ve bought them for the young ones in my life, including this one. I often hear my dog. (But I think you knew that)

  11. 🙂 An adorable post, Jennie. The book sounds marvelous. Stay warm! Hugs on the wing.

  12. This sounds like a good one!

  13. Oh my gosh, Jennie. This book sounds wonderful. That opening line hooked me. I just ordered it. Thanks so much for sharing and enjoy your snowstorm snuggled up with books. 🙂

  14. I wish we could all stay innocent children all our lives. This is lovely. We need more books like this.

  15. Twiggy and Lucy did as they were told. I must read this book or answer to a higher authority. Super post, Jennie.

  16. Ellen says:

    We just read “The Poet’s Dog” the first week of January and 5 year old, Benjamin, loved Teddy. Yesterday we began Chris Britt’s “The Most Perfect Snowman”. Benjamin has been so hoping for snow and Winter Storm Harper held great promise for this little corner of New England, but the long awaited snowflakes too soon became a rain sodden mess. The only snowman here will be found in the pages of the book. I always enjoy your posts about the books that you choose and enjoy, your inner child peeks through! “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley. Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ellen. Tell Benjamin I love Teddy, too. 🙂 The Perfect Snowman would have been ‘perfect’ had the weather forecast cooperated. But, that’s New England. I’m glad that my inner child peeks through when I write about children’s books! I adore the Aldous Huxley quote!! It’s going to be added to my list.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this lovely recommendation!

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is a lovely book recommendation from Jennie, that excellent teacher!

  19. Thanks so much for introducing me to this book. Can’t wait to read it!

  20. A beautiful book, Jennie. I have just bought the audiobook.

  21. Norah says:

    Have you recommended this one before, Jennie, or did I find out about it from Patricia Tilton? It does sound very special and perfect for reading in your snow storm. I’m sure you and your children will enjoy.

    • Jennie says:

      I did recommend this book, two years ago. I feel so strongly that it is one of the best, I had to recommend it again. It is that good!! Not just for children, either. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        It must have been from you then. I did purchase it at the time but don’t remember having a strong reaction. Maybe I didn’t read it. I’ll have to go back and have a look. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        I think you’d remember the story if you had read it. Let me know. Thanks!

      • Norah says:

        I had begun reading it, but didn’t get too far in. I obviously got distracted. I’ve started again now. It is quite lovely. I’ll try to not get distracted this time. Distraction doesn’t mean a book isn’t worthy, it just means that other things come up. I’ll let you know. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        Distraction is my middle name, and it seems pleasure reading is what always seems to suffer or get left behind. I hate that…

      • Norah says:

        Jennie, I finished it this morning. I agree you. ‘The Poet’s Dog’ is a beautiful story, so heartwarming and poignant. I’m so disappointed that I was distracted earlier, but that disappointment becomes joy upon reading it now. I absolutely love the conclusion. The book is a true gem. Thank you for reminding me of it.

      • Jennie says:

        I’m so glad you read the book and felt the same way as I did, Norah. The ending was far more poignant and wonderful than I expected. A true gem!

      • Norah says:

        That’s just how it was for me, Jennie. 🙂

  22. This looks like lovely book, thank you so much for sharing this 🙂🐾🐾

  23. sjhigbee says:

    This one sounds like a magical read, Jenny – thank you for sharing:)

  24. reocochran says:

    I adore children’s books since they are so often full of humanity and truths. The illustration on the cover looks great, Jennie. Thanks for sharing! ✨ 💗

  25. Wonderful recommendation, Jennie! And yes, parents and children should read together. 😉 Best wishes, Michael

  26. Jennie, thank you for the great post and I am “running right over to Amazon to purchase. I love doggies stories. Your description of this book is stellar! 🙂

  27. Jennie, I now have Bob and The Poet’s Dog and soon I will be able to read, although, I must be careful at first, my eyes are still healing. I know I will love them! And, as soon as I finish with my paranormal series, I promise I will continue with my children’s Books. Karen 🙂

  28. L. Marie says:

    Wow! I’d never heard of this book though I’ve read others by Patricia MacLachlan. (Sarah, Plain and Tall being a favorite.) Thank you for yet another great book recommendation.

    • Jennie says:

      Sarah, Plain and Tall is a favorite of mine, too. The Poet’s Dog is as good, if not better. It should have won the Newbery. Thanks so much, L. Marie!

  29. What a delight for me to have found your blog!!

  30. restlessjo says:

    Teaching children must be the most rewarding thing, Jennie. 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for finding my blog.

  31. Norah asked my question and you answered it. I knew it was familiar when I saw the cover. It’s a sweet story.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you remembered, Marlene. I needed to shout out about this book, as it had been two years. The snowstorm was just what I needed to read the book again. I’m so glad I did!!

  32. Pingback: The Poet’s Dog — A Teacher’s Reflections – Pet World

  33. Sarah says:

    This goes straight you TBR list, Jennie! Thanks!

  34. Pingback: #KidsLit – The Poet’s Dog – Robbie's inspiration

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Robbie! Your kind words are certainly appreciated. I’m so glad you like the Poet’s Dog as much as I do. I often feel as though I learn much about British children’s books from you. The library just found Winnie the Witch for me, which I’m very excited to read.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Robbie. And thank you for linking the post to your blog. I feel like I learn about wonderful British books from you. My library just got me a copy of Winnie the Witch. I’m excited to read it.

  35. Pingback: The Poet’s Dog — A Teacher’s Reflections – Imaginary 2 Title

  36. Amazing post!
    Follow me here-
    Thank you!

  37. Jassie says:

    Hi! We’re looking for children’s book authors for a group author interview. Would love to have you participate in it. Do have a look at this link for the info and sign up

  38. Jasveena says:

    Hi. We’re looking for children’s books authors for a group author interview. Would love to have you participate in it. Do check out this link

    • Jennie says:

      Hi! I appreciate your invitation. Although I write a blog and have written a children’s book, I am not a published author. And, being a preschool teacher, my area of expertise would have been your January theme. Please keep me in mind down the road. Thank you!

  39. Shruthi says:

    One among the best things I’ve read today it’s so beautifully written and it made my day❤️ your choice of words are really good and keep writing much love and wishes to all your future work.

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