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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Patricia Polacco, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Back to School Picks: Thank You, Mr. Falker

Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Let me start by saying I am an unmitigated Polacco fan, and among the many books she has written, this may just be my favorite.

It packs a wallop if picture books can, amidst their recent much-heralded demise, continue to do such a thing. This one definitely does.

As a new school year is in the offing, most of us, if we search our memories, can recall with perfect clarity a teacher who had a life changing effect on our life, both academic and otherwise. These are often defining moments as we look back. Sometimes it was not that dramatic – perhaps a random word of encouragement, some extra time spent or an affirmation at a time when we needed it most.

I had two such remarkable people who stretched me and made me want to excel. One was my 6th grade teacher and the other taught English in my sophomore year in high school. They showed me the possibilities of what could be, not what was. They were most probably the reason I became a teacher. One of them is still in my life as a friend and mentor, meeting her again after many years. The other, I bumped into quite randomly in Sag Harbor as I was entering a restaurant several years ago. I got the chance to say “thank you” to my version of Mr. Falker and it felt great!

This is the true story of one of Ms. Polacco’s childhood school experiences, dense with the richness of the truth of so many things. It starts, as do most things, with a family, its traditions, and the importance it places on certain things and in that placement, the passing on of an inherent value to its children.

Readers will witness the ritual of the Polacco family and her grandfather, as he has done for generations, pouring honey on the cover of a small book and offering the youngest a taste of honey with the query, “What is that taste?” “Sweet” is the reply. Then the entire family joins in with one voice, “Yes, and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book.” Trisha longs to pursue the tradition through learning to read.

Her story concretely and painfully details the power of words to hurt and to heal, the ability of a teacher to change one life at a time, simply by caring enough to probe deeper into the reason for a certain child’s struggles with academics, and the devastating effects of bullying.

For all that, it is a supremely uplifting and honest book, chronicling the difficulty faced by one child and her struggles in learning to read. The raw truth of this book as Ms. Polacco details her struggles with deciphering letters and their accompanying sounds, is juxtaposed against the caring Mr. Falker and his charismatic ability to change one child’s gradual mistaken belief that they are not smart because their learning curve is different. They have what is termed a learning disability – they process information differently.

Trisha’s drawing talent and ability become evident and are a soothing comfort in her struggle to adjust from a comforting farm life with which she is familiar, and her new life as the family moves to California. Her reading struggles intensify, accompanied by the unrelenting taunts of a classmate.

Soon, Trisha herself begins to believe the truth of the taunts – she is different, she believes and as she sees it, dumb. That difference, she mistakenly perceives is her fault and the reason for her inability to succeed and fit in. Enter Mr. Falker!

Fifth grade will be life changing. His elegant clothing and insistence on civility are  only his outward hallmarks.

He gradually sees through the loneliness and fear brought on by Trisha’s inability to make sense of the squiggles on the blackboard.  Promising her everything will change, he assures her that it has only been through her cunning, smartness and yes, bravery, that she has eluded and fooled many teachers in her ability to keep up.

Mr. Falker and a reading teacher meet with Trisha nearly every day and the world opens to her. It finally all begins to make sense!

She clutches a jar of honey and a book in triumph as she remembers the tradition of her family. Open sesame! The promise of the family tradition is met and kept.

Fast-forward thirty years and Trisha’s reconnection is tender as she meets again the life changing Mr. Falker or Felker, his real name. He asks her what she does for a living and thanking him, she brightly replies, “ I make books for children”.

You can’t write better than this, even in fiction.

Thanks to all the Mr. Falkers of this and every school year that have affected eternity in their ripple effect and sometimes never get to see the difference in the lives they’ve touched. This book is for you and those you’ve changed forever, whether you ever come face to face with it or not! You are the real heroes of this book, along with the students whose lives you’ve saved in the simple deciphering of the human heart.

 

 

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2. An Evening with Patricia Polacco



I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to the amazing author/illustrator PATRICIA POLACCO on Monday evening. She discussed a few of her books--in particular THE KEEPING QUILT and THE BLESSING CUP. Both of these heartwarming stories are based on her own true family stories.



Ms. Polacco said that she came from a family of "amazing storytellers." Every evening her grandmother would share a story, embellishing them more and more as the years went by. "Of course it's a true story," her grandmother would say when asked. "But it may not have happened."

The author went on to explain that "the truth is the journey one takes through the story." She also shared her feelings on her illustrations. "Art is like breathing," she said. "I can't imagine life without it."



I encourage you to share the journey through one or many of Patricia Polacco's endearing picture book stories. You'll be so glad that you did.

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3. May 2012: Best Selling Kids’ Books, New Releases, and More …

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 7, 2012

Here’s the scoop on the most popular destinations on The Children’s Book Review site, the most coveted new releases and bestsellers.

THE HOT SPOTS: THE TRENDS

Five Family Favorites with Catherine Newman

Books for Boys: 5 Funny Kids Books

Best Young Adult Books with Andrea Chapman of Reading Lark

How Picture Books Play a Role in a Child’s Development

Where to Find Free eBooks for Children Online


THE NEW RELEASES

The most coveted books that release this month:

The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, Book Three)

by Rick Riordan

(Ages 9-11)

Theodore Boone: The Accused

by John Grisham

(Ages 8-12)

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

by Eric Litwin

(Ages 4-7)

The Enchantress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

by Michael Scott

(Ages 12-17)

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4. Top 100 Picture Books #53: Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

#53 Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (1998)
33 points

Could never read it to the kids without getting teary eyed. Great story about what a difference a teacher can make in a child’s life. – Cheryl Phillips

This is such a powerful books to read to young kids. All of the kids benefit from hearing this semi autobiographical story, but especially the struggling readers. – Alexandra Eichel

I think it’s fair to say that this book was a big surprise.  Not that people voted on it, of course.  People voted on it on the last poll, but its numbers were far too low to get on the final count.  So to see it make it, and at the more than respectable #53 . . . well, it just does the heart good.

The description from the publisher reads, “In this autobiographical story, Little Trisha, overjoyed at the thought of learning how to read struggles when she finds that all the letters and numbers get jumbled up. Her classmates make matters worse by calling her dummy.  Finally, in fifth grade, she is lucky enough to have a teacher who recognizes Trisha’s incredible artistic ability — and understands her problem, and takes the time to lead her to the magic of reading.  Although dyslexia is never mentioned in the book, this story will provide great reassurance to children who struggle to overcome learning disabilities.”

As you may already know, the book is autobiographical for the most part.  On her website Ms. Polacco addresses this saying, “I REMEMBER FEELING DUMB, THAT TERRIBLE FEELING ABOUT MYSELF WAS COMPOUNDED BY BEING TEASED BY A BULLY. THAT BOY CHANGED MY LIFE AND MADE ME FEEL SO UNSAFE AND SO SAD THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE. MR. FALKER, MY HERO, MY TEACHER, NOT ONLY STOPPED THIS BOY FROM TEASING ME, BUT HE ALSO NOTICED THAT I WASN’T READING WELL AND GOT A READING SPECIALIST TO HELP.”

It is undoubtedly the best-known (and probably best period) picture book featuring a dyslexic child we’ve ever seen.  All the more reason to check out this lesson plan called Digging Deeper: Developing Comprehension Using Thank You, Mr. Falker.”

It has some sequels, so to speak, of its own.  Using the same characters and themes, Ms. Polacco returns time and again to her own youth for inspiration.  In 2010 she published The Junkyard Wonders in which Tricia finds her tribe.  This year we’re seeing the publication of The Art of Miss Chew where Tricia is able to connect with an art teacher as well.

PW said of Thank You, Mr. Falker, “Polacco’s tale is all the more heartfelt because of its personal nature. Young readers struggling with learning difficulties will identify with Trisha’s situation and find reassurance in her success. Polacco’s gouache-an

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5. Q&A with Patricia Polacco + a Giveaway

Patricia Polacco has long been one of my favorite children’s authors. I’ve led author studies of her works with my former students in both reading and writing workshop. I have used books like… Read More

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6. Craft Tables for You — Part II of III

This is the second in a series of three posts that include craft tables you can download for use during your conferences or strategy lessons.  If you missed last week’s post, which talked… Read More

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7. Listener Submitted Reviews #22

This listener submitted review comes from Kevin Hodgson of Kevin’s Meandering Mind blog. This is Kevin’s fifth review for our show! He’ll soon need his own theme music.

This time, Kevin shares his thought about Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Send your MP3 recorded or type-written review in email to justonemorebook@gmail.com, or phone it in to our JOMB listener hotline (206-350-6487).

Need some inspiration? Give a listen to 21 previous listener submitted review episodes here.

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8. Tuesday Tales: Family Relationships Mass Blogging Day and Patricia Polacco books

wow logoToday I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women On Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy, (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost when they were teenagers. Visit “The Muffin” to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit Therese’s website to find out more about the author.

therese walsh last will book cover

I chose WOW!’s “Family Relationships Mass Blogging Day” to write about one of my favorite picture book authors/illustrators, Patricia Polacco. She has written and illustrated many picture books, including some of my favorites: My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother; Thank You, Mr. Falker; and Pink and Say.

The reason I chose her for today is many of her picture books are based on true accounts of her childhood, and she does not try to mask these events behind some fictional characters. She includes herself and her family members, and the stories are touching, often bringing tears. The book I chose especially for today is Thunder Cake. If you have a child scared of storms, this is the perfect book for you. It will help you and your child share special moments as Patricia and her grandmother did when she was a child.

Short, short summary: Thunder Cake is the story of how Patricia Polacco learned to conquer her fear of storms when she was a young girl. Her grandmother senses a storm is coming, and so she convinces Patricia to go outside and gather the ingredients they need to bake thunder cake. This includes eggs, tomatoes, and milk. While the cake is baking, Grandmother recaps what young Patricia did OUTSIDE as the storm was approaching, and she convinces her granddaughter that only a brave girl could do those things. Patricia agrees. This is one of the perfect family relationship books as it shows the heartwarming love between a grandma and her granddaughter, and it can help you as a parent (or even a teacher) with a child who has a fear of storms.

So, what do I do with this book?

1. Make a thunder cake with your students or you child. (If you are doing this with a classroom, you can also turn any cooking lesson into a math lesson–studying fractions, doubling recipes, and so on.)

2. Ask students or your child to write (or make a list together) all the reasons why rain is a positive thing–why do we need rain? Why is this important? If children can see why rain is necessary and helpful, it might give them more positive feelings toward storms. When your child starts to become afraid during storms, draw pictures of the ways rain helps, create poems, or even make up a play or story with older children. This will distract them from the storm and promote positive feelings.

3. Make noise with your child or students as a storm is approaching. Can you make your own thunder? Often children just don’t like loud noises they can not control, and this is why thunder scares them. Get out some pots, pans, and wooden spoons. Have a storm concert. Chant favorite poems and play music to drown out the outside sounds.

Another super easy thing to do is just talk with your child about Patricia’s bravery and see what they think. Thanks for checking out my post today as part of WOW!’s mass blogging day!

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9. Holiday Books Day 9: Christmas Tapestry

Each day leading up to Christmas, I'm going to feature a Children's book that I've really enjoyed and would make a great choice to share with your family for the holidays. It may be one I've loved for years or one I've just recently found, but all would be great additions to your Christmas story list. Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy!

"When a bad leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father's church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks his family's first Christmas Eve service in Detroit will be ruined too. Luckily, he and his father find a beautiful tapestry for sale in a secondhand shop-just the thing to cover the damaged wall and give the church a festive look!

But there is more to the tapestry, as they discover when an old Jewish woman who is visiting the church recognizes the lovely old cloth. It is her discovery that leads to a real miracle on this unforgettable Christmas Eve."

Patricia Polacco is awesome in all the books she's written, but I really do love this one. A great mixture of a holiday story, family relationships and history, love, and different cultures coming together. It's a bit longer than in text than a typical picture book, so older kids will probably get more out of it than your younger ones.

Not a flat-out Christmas book, but a lovely family read aloud that includes the holidays, some Christian traditions, some Jewish traditions, and fabulous miracle at the end!


Christmas Tapestry
Patricia Polacco
48 pages
Picture Book
Philomel
9780399239557
September 2002
Copy borrowed from library


To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a tiny commission from your purchase. Thanks!

1 Comments on Holiday Books Day 9: Christmas Tapestry, last added: 12/11/2009
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10. Timeless Thursday: The Mitten by Jan Brett

photo by >>>WonderMike<<< www.flickr.com

Today, in East Central Illinois, I am surrounded by snow and wind and chilly temperatures. So what’s a better Timeless Thursday book to remember today than The Mitten by Jan Brett? I remember when I was studying to be an elementary education teacher in the early 1990s, and everybody raved about Jan Brett–especially The Mitten. In one of my classes, we had to do a cross-curriculum unit on a book where we created activities in various subjects such as math, social studies, science, and reading. I did Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco, but one of my classmates did Jan Brett’s The Mitten. And I was smitten. :)

One of the best things about this book is the art and the border around each page that Jan Brett has become famous for. Not only are her illustrations wonderful and something I could never imagine doing in a million years, the borders are clever and help readers predict which animals might enjoy the boy’s mitten next. For example, the text on one page is discussing how Nicki lost his mitten. The border is showing us mole tracks on one page and a mole on the next. Then the next page’s text is about the mole finding the mitten and resting inside.

This Timeless Thursday Jan Brett classic, which is 21 years old in 2010, can be used in the classroom in so many ways. Many art teachers use her border idea for art projects in elementary art lessons. Teachers use The Mitten to work on predicting or sequencing skills and read tales from other lands (this story comes from a Ukrainian tradition). Parents can share this wonderful book at bedtime, use it to develop an interest in knitting, and even to talk about responsibility with their children. I mean, how many of us have lost a mitten? I have! I should probably have mine tied to my winter coat as we speak.

The Mitten by Jan Brett is a great winter book to share with children at home or at school!

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11. “Bystander” Named to Ballot of 2012 Charlotte Award Nominees

This is amazing good news. Great news, in fact. I’m happy and proud to say that my book, Bystander, is included on the ballot for the 2012 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award.

To learn more about the award, and to download a ballot or bookmark, please click here.

The voting is broken down into four categories and includes forty books. Bystander is in the “Grades 6-8/Middle School” category. Really, it’s staggering. There are ten books in this category out of literally an infinity of titles published each year. You do the math, people.

For more background stories on Bystander — that cool inside info you can only find on the interwebs! — please click here (bully memory) and here (my brother John) and here (Nixon’s dog, Checkers) and here (the tyranny of silence).

Below please find all the books on the ballot — congratulations, authors & illustrators! I’m honored to be in your company.

-

GRADES pre K-2/PRIMARY

Bubble Trouble . . . Margaret Mahy/Polly Dunbar

City Dog, Country Frog . . . Mo Willems/Jon J Muth

Clever Jack Takes the Cake . . . Candace Fleming/G. Brian Karas

Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes . . . Margie Palatini/Barry Moser

Memoirs of a Goldfish . . . Devin Scillian/Tim Bower

Otis . . . Loren LongStars Above Us . . . Geoffrey Norman/E.B. Lewis

That Cat Can’t Stay . . . Thad Krasnesky/David Parkins

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! . . . April Pulley Sayre/Annie Patterson

We Planted a Tree . . . Diane Muldrow/Bob Staake

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GRADES 3-5/INTERMEDIATE

The Can Man . . . Laura E. Williams/Craig Orback L

Emily’s Fortune . . . Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Family Reminders . . .

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12. Favorite Holiday Books

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 29, 2011

During the holiday season it’s a great joy to share family traditions and spend time together. Every year, I look forward to reading these beloved books below to my daughter.

The Story of Holly & Ivy

By Rumer Godden; illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Rumer Godden begins The Story of Holly & Ivy with the sweetest line, “This is a story about wishing.” When an orphan named Ivy and a dreamy doll named Holly see each other through a toy shop window, magic happens. In this classic Christmas tale, Holly and Ivy both find a sense of belonging in their new home and to each other. Wishes come true in part thanks to Barbara Cooney’s tender illustrations of the festive village and toys. Godden captures the precious beauty of a brave girl unwilling to give up on her dream. (Ages 5-10)

Christmas Tree Memories

By Aliki

My daughter and I love returning to Christmas Tree Memories by Aliki each December just like the family’s tradition in the book of sitting by their tree with cookies and a roaring fire to recount each story behind their homemade ornaments. Aliki imbues such gentleness to each character, whether it’s Papouli or the children, the love this family feels for each other comes across with her every detail. (Ages 4-8)

Jingle Bells

By Iza Trapani

Jingle Bells (as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani) is a rollicking fun songbook filled with holiday customs and traditions from around the world. Children will enjoy learning about bearded little gnomes in Sweden, lantern parades in the Philippines, breaking the piñata in Mexico, and presents found in their shoes in Italy. (Ages 4-8)

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13. April 2012: Best Selling Kids’ Books, New Releases, and More …

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 2, 2012

Here’s the scoop on the most popular destinations on The Children’s Book Review site, the most coveted new releases and bestsellers.

THE HOT SPOTS: THE TRENDS

Giveaway: Win the New iPad

Award-Winning Illustrator Marla Frazee & the Best Interview Ever

Author Interview: Gary Paulsen

How Picture Books Play a Role in a Child’s Development

Where to Find Free eBooks for Children Online


THE NEW RELEASES

The most coveted books that release this month:

The Art of Miss Chew

by Patricia Polacco

(Ages 5-8)

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

by Trenton Lee Stewart

(Ages 10-13)

Goddess Girls #8: Medusa the Mean

by Joan Holub and Suzanne Willams

(Ages 8-12)

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1)

by Robin LaFevers

(Ages 14-17)

The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy)

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

(Ages 10-14)


THE BEST SELLERS

T

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