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The Poet's Dog

Last updated Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0062292625
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2018

Synopsis: 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 children trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and without fear they understand him. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know any poets? (Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein)
•  Do you have a dog?
•  Do you have a favorite poem?


•  Kindling - dry twigs, pieces of paper, etc., that burn easily and are used to start a fire
•  Molasses - a thick, brown, sweet liquid that is made from raw sugar
•  Shallow - superficial
•  Derivative - made up of parts from something else, not new or original
•  Disposition - the usual attitude or mood of a person or animal
•  Poignant - causing a strong feeling of sadness

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you think dogs know or understand words?
•  Have you ever seen snow? Where?
•  What is Teddy's favorite poem?
•  Where do you think Sylvan went?

Craft ideas:
•  Write a short poem about your dog or favorite animal and draw a picture illustrating it.
•  Make a dog puppet. See Pinterest for an example.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  Find and read poems by a couple of the poets mention in the book. (Yeats, Shakespeare, etc.)
•  Look up a picture of an Irish wolfhoud and show to the kids. (The type of dog Teddy is)

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!