Tag Archives: patricia maclachlan

The Power of Poetry

14 Oct

I’m still basking in the joy of yesterday’s Nobel Prize for Literature announcement. Although the Nobel committee awarded it “”for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, I think it was because it was his for the inspiration his poetry inspired in others.

Which gets me to today’s book, Patricia MacLachlan’s The Poet’s Dog.



Publisher’s Summary:From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love.

Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

This is a short book, a mere 96 pages, but it speaks to the power of poetry.


Henri Matisse

22 Oct


The Iridescence of Birds written by Patricia MacLachlan and marvelously illustrated by Hadley Hooper, is a book about Henri Matisse. It begins with this line

“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray/ And the days were cold/ And you wanted color and light and sun…”

then goes on to explain the things in young Henri’s life that might have influenced him. It is more speculative than factual biography, but would be a great way to get kids tinkling about what inspires artists and even writers. It end with this line

“Would it be a surprise that you became a fine painter who painted/ Light and Movement/ And the iridescence of birds?”

Fantastique, non? as a french reader might say. MacLachalan’s ponderings are beautifully enhanced by Hooper’s illustrations.

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What inspires you?

Small truths

20 Jul


I think Patricia MacLachlan and I are kindred spirits. She writes the sensitive, quiet sort of books  I love and that touch my heart. In  The Truth of Me,  Robbie and his dog Ellie, are sent to spend summer with his Grandma Maddy. This is a good thing because he loves Maddie and feels far more at home than he does with his parents.He doesn’t really understand why this is so. Maddy has a special way with animals and she teaches Robbie some of what she knows and helps Robbie understand his parents.along the way.

One of my favorite scenes is in chapter 4 “Small Truths”. Robbie is talking with Henry, a doctor who lives a few houses away  and a good friend of Maddy. They are talking about Maddy and Henry says that Maddy’s stories are her truths. Robbie asks Henry if he has truths of his own and he replies “I am, in my heart, a man with a very large sailboat. I sail around the world with my two dogs and visit people everywhere.  I like the wind in my hair. I like the sun. I like the stars at night.” This starts Robbie down the road to discover his truths.

In our hearts, we all hold truths. Sometimes the truth is what people see. Oftentimes not. This book will start readers on their own path to discovering what is on their hearts.


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