I think that this book may have finally gotten me over my fear of sequels for good. The times have changed and sequels seem to be inevitable, and these days, they are often as good, or better, than the first!
Jack is back and lucky for him, Miss Stretchberry has moved up a year as well. (I work in a school and have seen this happen...it's not as rare as you may think. My friend's son had his teacher for 1st, 2nd and 4th grade!). He is back to writing poetry, and even though Miss Stretchberry asks for more words about Jack's dear departed Sky, he has no more words about Sky. Instead, he sets his sites on the mean, fat, black cat that he sees at the bus stop.
There are more poems about poems and about poets as well. Walter Dean Myers is back, as are Christopher Myers, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, plus mentions of others. Jack's Uncle Bill makes sure that he tells Jack his opinion of the famous poets as well as Jack's own short lines.
Maybe the most poignant piece of the book is the exploration of the relationship of Jack and his mom. Jack's mom is deaf, and Jack wonders how words exist in her head. He wonders how she "hears" his poems. A favourite of mine is Jack's June 5th entry of "This is Just to Say" (pg. 124-125 arc).
Interestingly enough, the mean old cat ends up doing something nice for Jack and his family, and while Sky will never be replaced, perhaps Jack can spread some of his love after all.
Creech has done it again. This book seems so effortless. It is a fast read, and is perfect for reluctant and avid readers alike, but there is so much story...so much meat in the sparse words. I find myself amazed at these little books.