A minimalist and poignant story, The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan is about the bond between a dog and two lost children, and how they come to save each other.
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?
Based on the concept that only poets and children can hear dogs speak — one that is lovely and executed to perfection here — MacLachlan has written an achingly beautiful story using simple, sparse prose. The technique boils everything down to the heart of the story — and lets you really sink into her message, and the poetry of the relationship between Teddy and Sylvan, and Teddy and the two children.
Though a quick read, I fell in love with The Poet’s Dog slowly — as I took my time reading each page, savoring each word. MacLachlan’s prose is not overly complex – easily accessible for young readers – and yet she still captures a certain sort of beauty in this minimalism. It’s the kind of writing that can be appreciated by lovers of literature and the written word, while still telling a story that is genuinely moving for readers of all ages.
Sure to be another classic from the Newbery Medal-winning author, The Poet’s Dog is in stores now.