Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me

illus. by Ehsan Abdollahi. 32p. Sourcebooks. Apr. 2019. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781492677246.
Gr 1–2—What if your dog could speak human words? When Jace and his family want to name their new puppy "something cute," the dog objects. "Uh-uh! No way! No way!/I'm deep and I'm a poet. No!/A cute name's not OK." Naming him Thinker, Jace, who is a poet, shares his ideas about poetry with the pup. The improbable--even goofy--premise plays out as an entertaining, empathetic story and congenial poetry lesson through Greenfield's skilled writing. Abdollahi's fine use of cutting tools with hand-crafted papers produce simple, attractive characters and scenes. The title suggests that Jace will be the narrator, but Thinker takes center stage most of the time. Greenfield favors free verse that moves easily along, recounting Thinker's days and his eventual visit to Jace's school for Pets' Day. There is one haiku and a small rhymed verse along the way, and Thinker closes his stirring class visit and the book with a rap. Greenfield's short concluding commentary on poetry writing, free verse, and rap invites readers to also write their own poems. Modest in size, the narrative will work best with an early grade range for personal enjoyment, read-aloud, and discussion. It could also serve nicely in teaching both art and poetry writing in older classes.
VERDICT A well-crafted title that is wide in appeal and possibilities for use.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

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