Meet Authors & Illustrators

Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco

   Patricia Ann Barber didn't exactly pick her profession: she was born into it. Both sides of her family (Irish, Russian-Ukrainian) had traditions of fabulous tale-telling. Small wonder that she grew up appreciating the essential truths of story - even when it wasn't precisely accurate. "Bubbie, is that story true?" she would ask her grandmother. "Of course is true - but it may not have happened," Bubbie would reply. Now that Patricia Ann Barber is Patricia Polacco, award-winning author and illustrator, she understands what her grandmother was saying. "All story is true, but it doesn't matter whether it really happened or not. It deals with a visceral truth," says Polacco.

   "It almost doesn't matter what color you are, what background you come from. There's something in that story that rings true. If it rings true to you, you identfy with it and you live it." The author wrote and illustrated books such as Pink and Say, My Ol' Man, Babuskha Baba Yaga, Chicken Sunday, My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, Tikvah Means Hope and In Enzo's Splendid Garden. Some are traditional tales she heard as a child. Others are recollections of her boisterous family. Pink and Say, a story of the Civil War, is a moving story of her great-grandfather, a boy soldier saved by a runaway slave fighting for the Union.

   Her books stress the importance of family traditions and memories, and show the courage, humor and humanity of ordinary people. Her characters find adventure and magic in everyday occurrences. They can ignore being "boot-poor" because they are "rich on dreams." Dreaming is important to Polacco. She fears that too much "electronic augmentation" is running roughshod over the grand childhood tradition of make-believe. "The very young know what it is to hear a story, and sit and make the action happen in their own minds. But when we get older, our attention gets captured by a luminous screen," she says.

   "The skill of imagination is like a muscle in your arm; if you don't use it, it starts to atrophy." Her own imagination helped her survive as a learning-disabled child who was often teased. As a respite from the pain of everyday life, the author says, she would live in her imagination: "It was safer there. I was pretty there, I was smart there, I could fly there." Children who can visualize a different way of living don't necessarily have to live in a dream world, however. Polacco believes children can use that power to figure out solutions for problems in the here-and-now. "I would like to give children the notion that they are kind of captains of their own fortune. That they have power, unbelievable power," she says. And that power is not limited only to kids: "What I'm doing in my writing is to call even adults back to the time when they believed in the what-ifs. To me, that's a wonderful place to be."

 

Interview by Susie Wilde

   Patricia Polacco is a children's book author who isn't afraid of love nor sentimentality and recently she celebrated brotherly love in three recent books. "What's wrong with feeling those feelings and talking about them, glorying in them, shedding a tear and valuing these quiet, gentle mercies?" she asks, "I think people can get their skin too tough. If you look inside people like that, you'll find they wish they could cry, but they've forgotten how."

   Polacco's Pink and Say may very well bring tears to her readers eyes. Say, a young white Civil War soldier, is rescued from a battlefield, by another young soldier, Pink, who's African-American. Pink brings Say to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, who nurtures Say back to emotional and physical health. She later dies trying to hide the boys from marauders. Despite her efforts, the boys are captured and taken to Andersonville Prison w here they are separated. Say later learns of Pink's death. Powerful themes of injustice, the true pursuit of freedom, stolen youth, interrupted life, and the cruelties of war and its aftermath thread themselves through the story.

   As with most of her stories, Pink and Say comes from Patricia Polacco's life. Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), her Great-Great Grandfather, was changed by Pink's life and death. He thought Pink more worthy of living than he and realized he held the only memory of an incredible young man who left behind no family, no birth record, or death certificate. "Whenever Grandpa Curtis told the story, he would entreat his listeners, 'You must remember that this child lived, you must!'" Polacco ends her book with a similar appeal and has already received promises from children that they will never forget Pink.

   Pink is an unforgettable character. He taught himself to read, valued human life enough to risk his life saving Say, and though he hated war, knew he must fight to "end the sickness of slavery." Bit by bit the boys become close to each other, exchanging nicknames, then truths and finally, secrets they guard. Say admits he can't read and ran from battle, but has pride in the fact he shook hands with Mr. Lincoln. That's another part of the family story Polacco treasures. As the story passed from generation to generation, the teller would always put out his hand at the end and say, "'Touch my hand,' then add, 'Well, you've touched the hand, that touched the hand, that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln.'" "I never thought of Lincoln as someone removed from me by a century, but someone only four people away from me."

   Pink and Say was also inspired by Polacco's life-long best friend, an African-American male. Knowing Stuart and knowing and loving his family, you have a very clear sense of the injustice and horror of racism and how insidious it is. You watch people you care about being injured inside, bruised and bleeding where it doesn't show. Armed with all that, Pink and Say took on new meaning for me. I thought it was ironic that I have the same kind of relationship my grandfather had five generations later.

   Part of Polacco's power comes from her illustrations. In Pink and Say hands are a constant focus and near the end comes a startling illustration where Pink and Say are wrenched apart at Andersonville. "As an artist," says Polacco, "I have a preconceived idea and then the illustration takes on a life of it's own. That definitely happened in that illustration and I've later thought how the position of wrenching is almost an illustration of what's happening today; a visual demonstration of the horror of the interruption and divisions of life...the fear, desperation, and desolate emptiness so many people feel."

   Polacco's background was so inclusive that it's no wonder she herself feels wrenched by the separations of life today. She was raised by men and women of differing ages from Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian --Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Shanty Irish, and African-Americans from the Bayous of Louisiana. " I always saw people of all races in our living room and heard them spoken of with such dignity. I never heard a racial slur until middle school. That's when I started to get the picture and realize there's cruelty in this life, it isn't a perfect place."

   Polacco's storytelling family taught her to look " for miracles every day because they're in the most ordinary things and the greatest miracle is the discovery of the trust you can have for other human beings." Polacco's Tikvah Means Hope pays homage to the miracle of brotherhood she witnessed in Oakland's handling of two major catastrophes. The story is set during Sukkoth (a Jewish fall holiday that remembers desert wanderings and the joy of harvest) and placed against the background of the Oakland fire. Amid the fire's devastation, comes the miracle of life and the uniting of people. "I see miracles in the oddest places and think we should talk about these wonders whether it's a shared Sukkoth in a burned backyard or people who don't know each other hugging on street corners. People need to know they can count on each other and that these things that we make into our little lines of demarcation are so false. Brotherhood lies just under the surface. Put a room full of four year old together they don't care about the skin color, religion or sexual preferences of parents. The Bible, Koran, and Cabala all say to be close to God you have to become as a child."

   Patricia Polacco's My Rotten Red-Haired Brother remembers an incident from her childhood that forever bettered her relationship with her brother. She still sees herself much as she depicts the character in the book. "I might live in a fifty year old body, but I'm basically still a 9 1/2 year old with braided hair, with one braid coming out, holes in my pants at the knees, wearing my brother's hand-me-down shoes, and bubble gum's stuck up in my right temple because that's where it always landed when it fell out my mouth as I slept."

   In all three stories, Polacco leaves room for children to wonder. She believes in the power of story and in the power of children and has the gift of uniting the two to help kids ask questions and then to come up with their own answers. " It's a very natural thing for storytellers, they bait the hook and let you swallow it, and then you have to figure out what you just swallowed."

For more information visit Patricia Polacco at her own web site.

 

Reviews

Appelmanso's Dream
Patricia Polacco
   Applemanso lives in an ordinary village, but he has extraordinary dreams that his true friends can see. They stick to wet surfaces and eventually help brighten up the drab village. The dreams are vividly colored and the tale is original. The art and text are perfectly matched in this unusual story. 1991, Philomel, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
ISBN: 0399218009

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair
Patricia Polacco
   It's finally happened, the townspeople are so hooked on TV that they have forgotten how to read and enjoy life. In this cautionary tale, Polacco warns of the perils of too much TV and presents the joy and liberation that reading provides. The illustrations on every spread are a sheer delight-we see the town and the adults transformed from couch potatoes to vibrant active participants in life and the arts. A great message from a master storyteller. An American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists." 1996, Philomel, Ages 5 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, May 1996 ; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 1996 Language Arts - Picture Books United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 1999 ; Georgia
   South Carolina Book Awards, 1999 ; South Carolina
ISBN: 0399229434

Babushka Baba Yaga
Patricia Polacco
   A delightful tale about a good Russian witch with a lesson about judging by appearance alone. Baba Yaga is not really a wicked witch, she just wants to be some little child's grandmother. Her chance comes when she saves a young boy from the wolves and the other grandmother's accept her as one of their own. Polacco's variant of this Russian folktale is beautifully illustrated. Widely reviewed and praised, this book earned a "star" from School Library Journal. 1993, Ages 4 to 8, $15.00. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1993 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Michigan Reader's Choice Award, 1997 ; Michigan
ISBN: 0399225315

Babushka's Doll
Patricia Polacco
   Natasha is not a particularly sweet child, and she whines and complains while spending a day with her grandmother. Grandmother gives Natasha a doll to play with, one that she has only played with once during her childhood. Through the magic of Babushka's doll, who turns out to be quite mischievous, the girl comes to realize more about herself and her own behavior. The book received a starred review in Booklist. 1990, Simon and Schuster, Ages $16.00 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Commonwealth Club of California Book Awards Winner 1990 Ages Up to 10 United States
ISBN: 0671683438

Babushka's Mother Goose
Patricia Polacco
   A Mother Goose with a Russian flair. Polacco retells stories, riddles and rhymes that she heard from her grandmother and invents a few of her own in this collection. It's fun, from the very first with a grandmotherly figure flying on a goose that looks a lot like the pair in Rechenka's Eggs. 1995, Philomel, Ages 3 to 7, $17.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0399227474

Betty Doll
Patricia Polacco
   Betty Doll, made by the author's mother to replace dolls lost in a fire, was always part of her life. Her mother left her story along with the doll, where it was discovered after her death. With the author, we relive the important events of her mother's life, from a dramatic rescue in a snow storm and an exciting trip to Chicago through her marriage and birth of children and grandchildren. As always, Polacco warms the heart with the love of family through the passages of life. Her visual story is told in somewhat rough-hewn, black pencil strokes, which suggest pre-color family snapshots; only touches of color are added. There are the details of generations--old furniture, clothes, sewing machine and the family members themselves, all depicted in large, double-page scenes and in photographs, as well. But Betty is always in color, for she connects the past with the present, in this valuable form of social history. 2001, Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $16.99. Ages 5 to 10.Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Best Books:
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers, 2002 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, March 2001 ; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0399236384

The Bee Tree
Patricia Polacco
   Mary Ellen decides that she is tired of reading and that she loves being outside and would like to spend all of her time running and playing rather than be indoors reading a book. Grandfather releases a couple of bees and suggests that they go find a bee tree. Thus the adventure begins. It's a lesson about these fascinating insects, as well as a reminder that there is a place and time for reading and for taking time to commune with nature. The illustrations are particularly vibrant and in Polacco's unmistakable style. 1998, Putnam & Grosset Group, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 039921965X

A Boat Ride with Lillian Two Blossoms
Patricia Polacco
   In this flight of fancy, Will and Mable are swept into the sky on a magical boat ride. 1989, Philomel, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   California Young Reader Medal Nominee 1997 Primary California
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1995 ; Kentucky
ISBN: 0399214704

The Butterfly
Patricia Polacco
   Drawing from the experience of family members, Polacco takes us back to a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II. What young Monique first thinks is a ghost in her room turns out to be a young Jewish girl, Severine, being hidden with her parents in Monique's basement. The girls steal moments of pleasure together. But fear of discovery forces the family to move on. The butterfly becomes a symbol of freedom. Polacco's lengthy but very readable text brings alive the joy of the girls' time together and the terror of discovery by the Nazis. The village and some of its occupants are introduced in the several pages before the text begins, so that we already feel the anxiety produced by the Nazis as well as the humanity of Monique's mother. Character is created in the sequence of portraits as events evoke emotions of horror, sorrow, friendly pleasures and familial security. The scenes are detailed where important, but otherwise exploit the potentials of color to help tell the story most effectively. A note from the author fills in the historical background. 2000, Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, Ages 6 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

The Butterfly
Patricia Polacco
   Once again, readers are introduced to members of Patricia Polacco's extended family. The setting is France during the Nazi occupation of WWII. Her great aunt Marcel Solliliage and her daughter Monique became a part of the French Resistance. They risked their lives to hide Jews in an effort to help them escape the fate the so many suffered. The story is filled with tension, symbolism and the brutality of the occupation, and the mistreatment of the Jews is not whitewashed. Young Monique grew up fast when she learned that her mother was sheltering a Jewish family and she resolved to keep the secret. Unfortunately, she and the daughter of the family were seen by a neighbor and they had to flee. Only the daughter survived as the Author's Note reveals. While a picture book, this story is for older readers--it requires an understanding or a bit more of an explanation of WWII and the persecution of the Jews. 2000, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2001 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 2001 ; Children's Literature; United States
   Lasting Connections, 2000 ; American Library Association; United States
   Notable Books for a Global Society, 2001 ; International Reading Association; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, May 2000 ; Cahners; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 2001 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 2001 Nonfiction United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, 2003 ; Oklahoma     Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award, 2002-2003 ; Pennsylvania
ISBN: 0-399-23170-6

Casey at the Bat
Ernest L. Thayer
Illustrated by Patricia Polacco
   The familiar poem is given a fresh look with Polacco's amusing artwork. It opens with a little girl reminding her brother that the big game will soon start and that he better get moving. Casey is filled with confidence and even though he arrives late and the ensuing game appears in jeopardy, he believes he can save the day. Polacco adds a real twist to the ending which will surely delight Little League and big league fans. 1997 (orig. 1988), Putnam, Ages 4 to 8, $13.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-698-11557-0
ISBN: 0-399-21585-9

Chicken Sunday
Patricia Polacco
   In this warm story the young Patricia and her two African-American friends want to buy a hat for the boys' grandmother to thank her for all of the wonderful Sunday dinners with her succulent chicken. When they go to the hat shop, other kids have just plastered the store with eggs. The ugly head of prejudice and racism against the Jewish storekeeper raised. Though blameless the kids must help out in the shop to repay the damage and insult. In the end the shopkeeper gives them the beautiful hat in the window that grandmother has eyed. Polacco demonstrates in the story and her art, that love and kindness can overcome evil and prejudice. This book, like Rechenka's Eggs, contains pictures of beautifully decorated Ukrainian-style Easter eggs, reflective of the many years Polacco spent studying art in the United States and Australia. (She has a Ph.D. in Art History with special emphasis on Greek painting and iconographic history.) 1992, Philomel, Ages 5 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

   Ms. Polacco spins another heartwarming story from her tapestry of real-life tales. Set in Oakland in a racially diverse neighborhood we watch eagerly as Stewart, Winston, and Trisha try to find a way to thank the boys' gramma, Miss Eula, for those scrumptious Sunday dinners. They decide to pool their money to buy her the Easter hat she admires. What can they do to earn enough for the hat? Clue: Pysanky eggs play an important part. Ms Polacco's paintings recreate the time period of the early '60's perfectly down to the photos on Mill Eula's dining room bureau. This is one of those special books that light up one's life. 1992, Philomel, $15.95. Ages All. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Children's Choices, 1993 ; International Reading Association; United States
   Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1992 ; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, 1994 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 1992 ; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1992 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1993 Picture Books United States
   Commonwealth Club of California Book Awards Winner 1992 United States
   The Golden Kite Award Winner 1992 Picture Illustration United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Michigan Reader's Choice Award, 1997 ; Michigan
   South Carolina Book Awards, 1995 ; South Carolina
ISBN: 0-399-22133-6 (book)
ISBN: 0-8045-6699-2 (cassette)

A Christmas Tapestry
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco always seems to create stories that pull at the heartstrings and this one is no different. It opens with a very unhappy pair of children who have had to leave their happy home in Memphis Tennessee where their father was the church pastor to relocate in Detroit next door to a run down church. It seems that Reverend Weeks has a knack for reviving churches and bringing the parishioners back. Jonathan and his sister work hard helping refurbish the church and its grounds. The neighbors take and interest and join in. By Christmas things are really looking ship shape, but then ice gets caught under the roof and the water works its way down the wall causing a big piece of plaster to fall--right in the front of the church. Jonathan is crushed, all that work and now this disaster. His Dad convinces him to come into town to shop for a few things and while a storm is raging they take shelter in a side street, Jonathan spies a shop, and in it is a beautiful tapestry. He convinces his father that it would be perfect to hang in the church to cover the ruined wall. While waiting at the bus stop a lady offers to share cookies and tea while they wait in the freezing cold. The offer her a ride home after returning to the church; when she sees the tapestry she is stunned. It is one that she had made and had served as her wedding canopy. A Holocaust survivor, she has lost all, but is happy to see her tapestry put to good use. The real kicker in this story is yet to come and to tell it would really not be fair, but if you can read the end and not feel a little choked up, I would be surprised. True or not, it is a touching story, and one that can be enjoyed by Jewish and Christian families and a story that reinforces the message of faith and goodness in this world. 2002, Philomel/PenguinPutnam, $16.99. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

   Patricia Polacco's Christmas Tapestry begins one summer when Jonathan's father, a preacher, comes to work in a run-down Detroit church. After months of repairing, cleaning, and painting, people fill the church to hear his father's sermons and delight in a sense of community. All goes well until a pre-Christmas blizzard ruins the wall waiting for a beautiful painting. Jonathan's father calms Jonathan's distress by reminding him that God always has a plan. That plan unfolds one miraculous Christmas Eve when Father and son find a piece of cloth to cover the ugly wall, then run into its seamstress, a woman who once used it as her wedding Chuppah. When the plasterer arrives to fix the wall, who should it be but her beloved husband stolen from her by the Nazis! Predictable? Maybe. Poignant? Definitely. 2002, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
ISBN: 0-399-23955-3

Firetalking
Patricia Polacco
Photographs by Lawrence Migdale
   An autobiographic book that provide a glimpse into the life of this famed children's author. Polacco tells about the way she works and provides details about a typical day in her life and the sources for her ideas and stories. It's informative, informal and filled with color photographs. Part of the "Meet the Author" series. 1994, R Owen, Ages 7 to 12, $13.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 1-8784-5055-7

G is for Goat
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco's latest exuberant offering is a complete ABC of goats, with a satisfying story line developed along the way from A to Z in its brief rhyming text. A little, goat-loving girl, attired in old-Eastern-European kerchiefs and pinafores, romps with her beloved goats, succinctly observing their quirks and antics: "E is for Ears, some floppy, some not. F is for Flowers, which goats eat a lot. L is for Lunch--get out of their way! M is for Munch; clothes taste better than hay." The text and art take a darker turn by V: "V is for Vet--we think something's wrong! W is for Wait, which we do all night long." But all turns out well, as the "sick" goat turns out not to be sick at all, but the proud mother of three new kids, who end the alphabet with their trio of Z names: Zig, Zag, and Zoe! According to the book-jacket blurb, Polacco "shares her homestead with a family of goats," and her extensive knowledge of and deep fondness for these sometimes-maligned creatures shows through on every action-packed page, crammed full with the amusing and exasperating presence of goats. 2003, Philomel/Penguin Putnam, $16.99. Ages 3 to 5. Reviewer: Claudia Mills (Children's Literature)

   Letter by letter, the reader meets all different kinds of goats, doing all different kinds of things. Polacco has something for each letter of the alphabet. This book would be great to use for alphabet activities or when the class is studying farm animals. Of course, the illustrations are wonderful and very colorful. Polacco does a fantastic job as always. Fiction. Grades K-2. 2003, Philomel Books, Unpaged., $16.99. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Janice Mantooth (Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 16, No. 2))
ISBN: 0399240187

The Graves Family
Patricia Polacco
   Doug and Shalleaux Graves arrived in Union City with their five children on a "dark and dreary night." They painted their house blood red and everyone stayed away. Until one day when two neighborhood children, Seth and Sara Miller, went over to meet the new boy. Immediately they realized that the Graves' house was quite different from theirs. They soon learned that the Graves' knew they were different, but hoped they would eventually find a town where they would fit in. Mr. Graves was an inventor who created a potion to cure baldness. It worked for a while, but then disastrous results occurred. They were about to be ostracized when television personality, Christopher Joel, selected their house as the perfect haunted house and featured it in his magazine. Humor intertwines with creepiness, just like Phoebe, Mrs. Graves' Venus Flytrap. entwines herself around objects and people. Polacco sets an eerie stage while presenting a lesson in accepting others who are different. Illustrations show the bizarre (giant-size furry spiders, dinner at the Graves house), the normal (the Miller children) and the humorous (hairdos on the men in town). 2003, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature)
ISBN: 0399240349

I Can Hear the Sun: A Modern Myth
Patricia Polacco
   An orphan boy lives in a settlement house, but he spends a great deal of his time with homeless friends in the park. When the boy is going to be sent away and leave these friends, he is magically transformed into a goose and soars to freedom. It is unusual and not as credible a story as one would expect from Polacco. The pictures, however, are marvelous. 1996, Philomel, Ages 6 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   American Booksellers Pick of the Lists, Fall, 1996 ; American Booksellers Association; United States
ISBN: 0-399-22520-X

In Enzo's Splendid Gardens
Patricia Polacco
   This book is the cumulative story of what happens when a boy takes a good look at a bee. He drops his book, a waiter trips, his tray tips - like the house that Jack built, the story builds. Even the chef, Enzo (Polacco's Italian/Jewish husband), gets into the act of this splendid story. It is a story full of motion and the art manages to convey all of the delightful commotion. 1997, Putnam, Ages 4 to 7, $15.95. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
In Enzo's Splendid Gardens
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco's latest book is a tour de "farce" worthy of a Marx Brothers comedy. It begins with a familiar pattern: "This is the bee that stopped on a tree in/ Enzo's splendid gardens." Now all bets are off as nothing is predictable from the moment the text continues: "Here is the boy who dropped his book as he turned/ around to take a good look at the fuzzy old bee,/ just there on the tree in Enzo's splendid gardens." Pure bedlam ensues as the waiter trips over the book, bumps the matron who knocks the man, who falls into the food cart face down, etc., etc. Keep your eye on the angel sculpture that also gets into the action as each scene becomes more frantic. A great cast of characters. Trust me... you'll love it! 1997, Philomel, $15.95. Ages All. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman
Best Books:
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1998 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
ISBN: 0-399-23107-2

Just Plain Fancy
Patricia Polacco
   With its delightful Amish setting, readers follow two sisters who find an abandoned egg on the farm and hatch it in secret. This egg is special and when it hatches, it turns into a rather fancy bird -- a real surprise for the parents, girls and the community. Make sure kids look at the title and other opening pages of the book or they will miss the "real" beginning of the story. Selected as a School Library JournalBest Book of the Year. 1990, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $4.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-553-05884-3
ISBN: 0-440-40937-3

The Keeping Quilt
10th Anniversary Edition
Patricia Polacco
   When Polacco's family emigrated from Russia they brought very little with them. The clothes on their backs and those of the other relatives were the real reminders of home. As they were outgrown and outworn, the clothes were cut up and made into a quilt. Patricia and her grandmother would recite the names of the relatives who owned a particular shirt, dress, or babushka pieced into the quilt. Over the years the treasured quilt was used to swaddle new members of the family, as a wedding chuppa, as a holiday tablecloth, and even at the ceremonies for the dead. The Keeping Quilt chronicles this family souvenir. The book received the Sydney Taylor Book Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. 1988, Simon and Schuster, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Not Just for Children Any More, 1999 ; Children's Book Council; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Sydney Taylor Book Awards Winner 1988 Younger Readers United States
ISBN: 0-689-82090-9

Luba and the Wren
Patricia Polacco
   The story may be familiar; it is an adaptation of "The Fisherman and His Wife," but the Russian setting let's Polacco's art transport readers to another time and place. Little Luba, the daughter of a poor farmer and his wife, is a happy child. One day during a mushroom hunt in the forest, she frees a wren from a snare. The wren is magical and offers to grant Luba a wish. She has none and returns home to tell her parents. They lament and beg her to return to the forest to obtain a bigger house and more productive land-and that is the start of their unhappiness and insatiable desire for more and more. They become the Emperor and Empress of the world and even that is not enough. When finally they ask to become gods the wren who has become increasingly angry returns them to their original state and they are once again happy. Luba rejoices, she has returned to her humble home and loving parents. The illustrations grow more lavish as the parents increase their station in life while the forest where the wren lives becomes darker and more foreboding as her wrath at the parents greed escalates. This is a story that may require adult interpretation, but it is indeed another winner from a master storyteller. 1999, Philomel, Ages 4 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Parent's Guide to Children's Media, 1999 ; Parent's Guide to Children's Media, Inc.; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 1999 Language Arts - Picture Books United States
ISBN: 0-399-23168-4

Meteor!
Patricia Polacco
   While visiting her grandparents at their farm in Michigan, Patricia and the rest are stunned by a meteorite landing in the yard. "Union City was A-BUZZ" and everyone trots out to see the fallen star, some touch it and believe that it will bring good luck, other just gape in awe. Eventually the meteorite becomes her grandmother's tombstone where to this day it rests overlooking the St. Joseph River. A great story, based on a true event, with bright, humorous, lively illustrations. 1996 (orig. 1987), Putnam, Ages 4 to 8, $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-399-21699-5

Mr. Lincoln's Way
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco has certainly had an interesting life since most of her books are based upon personal or related experiences. The story of Mr. Lincoln proves that one individual--a teacher, library or school principal--can indeed make a change or difference in a child's life. The boy in this story is called "Mean Gene" he was a disrupter in the classroom, a bully and not interested in studying. One day when Mr. Lincoln notices Eugene looking at a bird in a tree he tries to approach him through a book about birds. For the first time the boy shows interest and talks a bit. Later Mr. Lincoln asks for his help because birds are not coming to the atrium, and gives him the book to read. He became engrossed in the book, he began to help Mr. Lincoln find the right plants and shrubs and even worked on some bird houses. They really got along well and Eugene really started to change. Then one day he reverted back and Mr. Lincoln learns that his father is a very prejudiced and angry man, but he counters by talking about how the birds are a variety of colors, but that doesn't make one better than the other. Eugene tries hard to be a model student and by helping a family of mallard ducks, he helps himself. Mr. Lincoln also has a role in bringing Eugene's grandfather back into his life. A touching and complex story that sends a positive message to kids and creates hope for these working with kids who seem to be lost and categorized as bullies. 2002, Philomel/Penguin Putnam, $16.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002 H.W. Wilson; United States
   Los Angeles' 100 Best Books, 2001 IRA Children's Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States
   Smithsonian Magazine's Notable Books for Children, 2001 Smithsonian; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 2002 International Reading Association; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Arizona Young Readers' Award, 2004 Nominee; Arizona
   Colorado Children's Book Award List, 2003 Nominee; Colorado
   Delaware Diamonds, 2003 Nominee; Delaware
   ouisiana Young Readers' Choice Award, 2004 Nominee; Louisiana
   North Carolina Children's Book Award, 2003 Nominee; North Carolina
   Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award, 2003-2004 Nominee; Pennsylvania
   Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, 2003 Nominee; Washington
ISBN: 0399237542

Mrs. Katz and Tush
Patricia Polacco
   The intermarriage of Russian Jews and Russian Orthodox Christians brought a variety of theologies to Polacco's life. Her move to California provided added exposure to different faiths and races, and her husband an Italian Jew, added even another dimension to her life. In Mrs. Katz and Tush, a lonely Jewish widow and Larnel, a young African-American boy, develop a lasting relationship and deep appreciation for their respective cultures. The watercolor art work fills each spread with wonderful scenes of Larnel, Mrs. Katz and the abandoned cat, Tush. It was selected as one of the 20 best by Sesame Street Parents Guide. 1992, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Ages 4 to 8, $15.00 and $5.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Jane Addams Book Award Honor Book 1993 Picture Book United States
ISBN: 0-440-90065-4
ISBN: 0-440-40936-5

Mrs. Mack
Patricia Polacco
   In another story about her childhood, Polacco tells about her desire to learn to ride a horse. Finally when she turns ten, her Dad arranges riding lessons at a stable owned by Mrs. Mack. This run-down stable is not what Pat had in mind. The other stable hands make fun, but Mrs. Mack gets Pat up on a horse and eventually she learns to care for the animals and riding equipment. It is hard, but she has a goal. She wants to ride the beautiful Penny. There is a story within this story of a girl learning to ride. Penny, the horse she adores and finally rides, is struck with a viral infection. How Pat and the others characters in the story manage to save her life make for a suspenseful tale, and an afterword provides further details about Penny and Mrs. Mack. Pollaco's watercolors range from half-page to two-page spreads and are filled with pictures of beautiful horses in Mrs. Mack's stables. 1998, Philomel, Ages 4 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Smithsonian Magazine's Notable Books for Children, 1998 ; Smithsonian; United States
ISBN: 0-399-23167-6

My Ol' Man
Patricia Polacco
   Pop was a traveling salesman, and Polacco remembers him as a man who could sweet talk anyone and one who told outrageous stories. He tells them of a magic rock and its wonderful powers, but when he loses his job due to the depression, Patricia and her brother wonder if the rock's magic has failed. Just when things have sunk to their nadir, Pop gets an incredible job offer that suits him to a T. A positive story, with colorful watercolor and pencil illustrations that perfectly match the story. 1995, Philomel, Ages 5 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1997 ; Kentucky
ISBN: 0-399-22822-5

My Rotten Red-Haired Brother
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco remembers an incident from her childhood that involved her relationship with her brother. Always feeling like an also ran, Patricia stays on a merry-go-round longer than he does, but eventually falls off. Injured in the fall, her brother not only carries her home, but he runs to fetch the doctor. This warm-hearted story of family relationships will resound with siblings. An ALA Notable Children's Book, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists. 1998 (1994), Simon and Schuster, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00 and $5.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
My Rotten Red-Haired Brother
Patricia Polacco
   The story is based on the author's remembrances of her brother, Richie, who could run faster, throw farther and get dirtier than anyone else. Trisha can't out best him at anything until the night that she wishes on a falling star. Trisha learns about the power of wishes and Richie proves that he's more than a bragging brother. The poses and facial expressions are so child-like that they highlight the universality of this story of relationships. The end papers are covered with photos of Trisha and Richie from their family album. 1994, Simon & Schuster, $15.00. Ages 5 to 9.Reviewer:Jan Lieberman
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 1994 ; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, July 1994 ; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, October 1994 ; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Flicker Tale Children's Book Award Winner 1996 Picture Book North Dakota
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Flicker Tale Children's Book Award, 1996 ; North Dakota
   Utah Children's Book Awards, 1997 ; Utah
ISBN: 0-671-72751-6

Patricia Polacco: Dream Keeper
Patricia Polacco
   A 30 minute video that gives kids and adults a chance to meet a prolific and beloved contemporary author/illustrator. As she had in her personal appearances, Polacco tells about the sources and inspirations for her stories, reads selections, and demonstrates the book-making process. 1996, Searchlight Films/Putnam, Ages 4 up, $35.00. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ISBN: 0-399-22947-7

Picnic at Mudsock Meadow
Patricia Polacco
   It's the annual Halloween picnic and the whole town turns out --even the local ghost. The frenzied festivities are remarkably captured in watercolors and portray a party that can really be enjoyed anytime of the year. 1992, Philomel, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
ISBN: 0-399-21811-4
ISBN: 0-698-11449-3

Pink and Say
Patricia Polacco
   Say, a young white Civil War soldier, is rescued from a battlefield, by another young soldier, Pink, who's African-American. Pink brings Say to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, who nurtures Say back to emotional and physical health. She later dies trying to hide the boys from marauders. Despite her efforts, the boys are captured and taken to Andersonville Prison where they are separated. Say later learns of Pink's death. Powerful themes of injustice, the true pursuit of freedom, stolen youth, interrupted life, and the cruelties of war and its aftermath thread themselves through the engrossing and heart-wrenching story. The book has won rave reviws and according to The Horn Book it is "A not-to-be-missed tour de force." 1994, Philomel, Ages 9 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

   Based on a true story, this gripping book describes the remarkable friendship between two Union soldiers during the Civil War. In this tale, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), a young black soldier, finds Sheldon Curtis (Say), a white soldier too injured to walk, and carries him home so his mother can nurse him back to health. After marauders kill Pink's mother, the two boys are captured and sent to Andersonville prison, where Pink is eventually killed. 1994, Philomel Books, $15.95. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Debra Briatico

   Pinkus Aylee never considered color when he saved the life of Sheldon Russell Curtis, a white soldier, wounded and near death. The boys were fighting for the Union Army in the Civil War. Pinkus, aka Pink, carries Sheldon to his mama's house where she treats his wounds and nurses him back to health. During this time, Sheldon, aka Say, confesses his fears of returning to battle and develops an endearing friendship with his black friends. When marauders kill Pink's mama, Moe Moe Bay, the boys flee. They are caught and taken to Andersonville but only Say survives. He keeps the story alive for his children and grandchildren. Now Patricia Polacco, a fifth generation granddaughter, lovingly illustrates and relates this touching story for us all. 1994, Philomel, $15.95. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman
Pink and Say

   This is the story of Pink, a young black soldier who rescues Say, a young, wounded white soldier, from the battlefield. Pinkus Aylee hides the young white soldier in the house of his mother Moe Moe Bay, who nurtures the boy with food and conversation and comforts his wartime fears. Moe Moe Bay dies trying to hide the two young boys from marauders. The two are then captured and taken to Andersonville Prison where Pink is hanged hours after arrival. His body is thrown into a lime pit. Pinkus Aylee is a character that will never be forgotten. This book is, in fact, taken from a true story told for generations in Polacco's family. Polacco's great-great- grandfather Say spent his life telling the story because he felt guilty for living when "a more worthy human had died," leaving behind neither birth certificate, death certificate, grave nor family to remember him. The book ends with a plea from the author: "When you read this, before you put this book down, say his name out loud and vow to remember him always." The story itself is remarkable, but so is Polacco's artistry. She reveals emotional bonds through her pictures. Throughout the book there is a visual emphasis on hands. Say, tormented by his own perceived cowardice, finds pride in the fact that he has shaken hands with Mr. Lincoln. Throughout, you see the tender hands of Moe Moe Bay, and the caring hands of Pink. When the boys are ripped apart, their hands stretch towards each other and Pink cries out, "Let me touch the hand that touched Mr. Lincoln, Say, just one last time." Polacco masterfully reveals her characters, portraying real life in the way they expose their vulnerability bit by bit. 1994, Putnam, $15.95. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Best Books:
   Fanfare Honor List, 1994 ; Horn Book; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1994 ; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Second Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Lasting Connections, 1994 ; American Library Association; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 1994 ; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1995 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1994 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
   Publishers Weekly, The Cuffies: Children's Booksellers Choose Their Favorite (and not-so-favorite) Books of the Year, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, October 1994 ; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1995 Special Subjects United States
   Irma S. and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature Winner 1994 United States
   Jefferson Cup Award Winner 1995 United States
   Maine Student Book Award Winner 1996 Maine
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Great Stone Face Award, 1996-1997 ; New Hampshire
   Indian Paintbrush Book Award, 1997 ; Wyoming
   Iowa Children's Choice Award, 1997-1998 ; Iowa
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1996 ; Kentucky
   Maine Student Book Award, 1995-1996 ; Maine
   Prairie Pasque Award, 1997 ; South Dakota
   Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 1997 ; Illinois
   South Carolina Book Awards, 1997 ; South Carolina
   Texas Bluebonnet Award, 1996-1997 ; Texas
   Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 1997 ; Virginia
ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Rechenka's Eggs
Patricia Polacco
   Babushka lived alone, and spent the long cold days and evenings of winter creating beautifully decorated eggs. One day she finds a injured goose and brings into into her home. Rechenka, the goose is nursed back to good health, but as she grows stronger she accidently destroys alll of the beautiful handpainted eggs prepared for the Spring festival. Babushka goes to bed devastated, but the next morning, the goose lays a beautifully decorated egg and does so for the next twelve days. At the festival in Moskva, Babushka wins first prize for her eggs and heads home with a new feather quilt. In her heart she is a bit said, knowing that it is time for Rechenka to join her flock. But a surprise awaits and it brings joy and companionship to Babushka. The book was a winner of the International Reading Association Children's Book Award. 1988, Phlomel, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   California Young Reader Medal Nominee 1991 Primary California
   International Reading Association Children's Book Awards Winner 1989 Younger Readers International
ISBN: 0-399-21501-8
ISBN: 0-698-11385-3

Some Birthday!
Patricia Polacco
   Did everyone forget her birthday? Patricia is so dissapointed, but things change pretty quickly when Dad takes everyone for a late night cookout and a hunt for the Monster at Clay Pit Bottoms. It's a surprise birthday party with a real twist that young kids are bound to enjoy. Polacco's wonderful illustrations are lively and move the story right along to its humorous conclusion. An International Reading Association Children's Choice and recipient of a starred review in Booklist. 1991, Simon and Schuster, Ages 3 up, $15.00 and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Choices, 1992 ; International Reading Association; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1993 ; Kentucky
ISBN: 0-671-72750-8

Thank You, Mr. Falker
Patricia Polacco
   Trisha loved to draw. At school the other kids watched her perform her magic with crayons. When it came to reading, Trisha always failed. Finally, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker came into her life and helped her overcome her problem. The author writes from her personal experience about a teacher who appreciated her strengths and helped her overcome her weaknesses. We feel Trisha's pain and see her growth. The paintings are emotionally rich. A teacher can change a child's life as this inspiring story clearly demonstrates. 1998, Philomel, Ages 8 to 11, $16.99. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman

   Mr. Falker notices, acknowledges and names Patricia's learning difficulties with compassion. He is willing to pay for a tutor, thus unlocking the world of words for her. The book falls down in one particular way. While Polacco tells how the secret of her learning difficulties is hidden, again and again her peers mock her "dumbness." Still the book honors a fine teacher and by extension those who go above and beyond to care for their students. This serves as a tribute to her teacher, for Polacco herself was profoundly learning disabled. This would make a great teacher gift. 1998, Putnam, $15.99. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Susie Wilde

   Once again Polacco draws upon her own experiences, this time to tell the story of a young girl who suffers with a learning disability. Because she is not able to read, Trisha is taunted by her classmates and called dumb. She starts to lose confidence and thinks that perhaps she really is a dumbbell. Finally, a new sixth grade teacher, Mr. Falker, diagnoses that she has a learning disability. With his help and that of a reading teacher, Trisha finally begins to read. The warm relationship with her grandparents and her talent for drawing are showcased. What does seem a bit strange is that so many teachers did not recognize the problem, and that it was even missed by her own mother (who was also a teacher). Nonetheless, it is a moving tribute and really brings home the message that teachers can and do make a difference in their students' lives. 1998, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Book Sense 76 Picks, Fall 2001 ; Book Sense 76; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Dealing with Alienation, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1999 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
   Teachers' Choices, 1999 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1999 Picture Books United States
   California Young Reader Medal Nominee 2002 Picture Books for Older Readers California
   Emphasis on Reading: A Children's Choice Book Award Program Winner 2000 Grades 3-5 Alabama
   Rhode Island Children's Book Award Winner 2000 Rhode Island
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominees, 2000 ; Maryland
   Flicker Tale Children's Book Award, 2000 ; North Dakota
   Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 2001-2002 ; Georgia
   Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award, 2001 ; Louisiana
   Nevada Young Readers' Award, 2000 ; Nevada
   Rhode Island Children's Book Award, 2000 ; Rhode Island
   South Carolina Book Awards, 2001 ; South Carolina
ISBN: 0-399-23166-8

Thunder Cake
Patricia Polacco
   Thunderstorms can be frightening and so unnerving. Polacco's book provides a delicious solution to the problem --spend the time baking a special thunder cake. Time flies when you are having fun with grandmother and can ignore the flashes and crashes that fill the sky. A recipe is included. The illustrations are filled with the bright colors and patterns of Russian folk art. 1990, Philomel, Ages 4 to 6, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

    Patricia Polacco reaches back into her own childhood to tell this remarkable story about how her Babushka helped her overcome her fear of thunder. In this tale, a grandmother and her granddaughter rush around the farm to find all the ingredients for a "Thunder Cake." By the time they gather and mix the ingredients, bake the cake, frost it, and add strawberries, the storm moves away. Bright folk art illustrations help Polacco present a convincing tale that turns a frightening experience into an adventure and celebration. The author also includes the Thunder Cake recipe for interested readers. 1997, Putnam, $5.95 and $14.95. Ages 4 to 8.Debra Briatico
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1990 ; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1990 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
   Teachers' Choices, 1991 ; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   California Young Reader Medal Nominee 1992 Primary California
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Michigan Reader's Choice Award, 1993 ; Michigan
   South Carolina Book Awards, 1993 ; South Carolina
ISBN: 0-698-11581-3
ISBN: 0-399-22231-6

Tikvah Means Hope
Patricia Polacco
   Polacco's Tikvah Means Hope pays homage to the miracle of brotherhood she witnessed in Oakland's handling of two major catastrophes. The story is set during Sukkoth (a Jewish fall holiday that remembers desert wanderings and the joy of harvest) and placed against the background of the Oakland fire. Amid the fire's devastation, comes the miracle of life and the uniting of people. 1994, Doubleday, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1994 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
ISBN: 0-385-32059-0
ISBN: 0-440-41229-3

The Trees of the Dancing Goats
Patricia Polacco
   In another story about her family, Polacco relates a story of friendship that takes place during the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. Their friends and neighbors are stricken with scarlet fever, and are too ill to prepare for Christmas. Trisha and her family decide to create Christmas trees and decorate then with the beautiful carved animals Grandpa makes for Hanukkah. They cook food, decorate each tree with a little dancing goat and other homemade decorations and deliver their gifts to the neighbors. Their kindness begets other acts of giving and sharing. A warm and wonderful message in the true spirit of the holidays. The book is also available with a CD in which Polacco reads the story accompanied by music. 1996, Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 10, $16.00 and $22.00 (CD edition, 1977). Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot

   Two farming families, living half a mile apart in rural Michigan, celebrate very different traditions with their winter holidays, but their friendship is rock solid in a time of crisis. In another of her marvelous autobiographical stories, the author, Trish in the book, remembers her Ukrainian Babushka (grandmother) hand-dipping the candles for the Hanukkah menorah while her Georgian/Russian grandfather carves wondrous wooden animals and figures, brightly painted and the most wonderful gifts in the world. This year an epidemic of the contagious disease, scarlet fever, prevents most of their neighbors from preparing for Christmas. In a practical but kindly way, the family goes from house to house bringing roast chicken, latkes (potato pancakes) and also tiny trees decorated with dancing goats and other painted figures; leaving presents and at every house a candle "So they will have the light of God in their hearts...and so that God will protect them and make them well again." Their unselfishness is returned in a lovely way when the neighbors recover and come visiting them. Polacco's storytelling is faultless, as are her marking pen and pencil illustrations 2000 (orig. 1996), Aladdin, $6.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
Best Books:    Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States     Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education; California
ISBN: 0-689-83857-3

Uncle Vova's Tree
Patricia Polacco
   In this wonderful read-aloud book for the holiday season, readers will resonate with the message of love and family. While the setting is the Midwestern family farm, the family gathers and observes the Christmas as they would have in theier Russian homeland. The text is filled with bold colorful illustrations of Russian Orthodox Christian holiday traditions. 1989, Philomel, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95, and $5.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
ISBN: 0-399-21617-0

Welcome Comfort
Patricia Polacco
   With her usual story-telling and artistic skills, Polacco introduces readers to Quintin Hamp, a janitor at Union City Elementary School. Quintin was a man who took care of things and people. One day he befriends a overweight foster child who is being teased by the other students. Welcome Comfort finds the family he never had with Quintin and Martha Hamp. Only one sad note--the Hamps go away every Christmas Eve, and much as Welcome wants to believe in Santa, he finds it difficult. He finally drifts off to sleep and when he awakens, he isn't sure if he dreamed about his sleigh ride with Santa or if it really did happen. It isn't until Welcome is all grown up that he learns the wonderful truth. 1999, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)

   Polacco paints another portrait of friendship. A chubby school custodian takes a lonely foster child under his wing and assures the boy that Santa Claus comes to those who believe. The child remains skeptical until he has attained adulthood, received a special legacy, and, in turn, befriended another lonely boy. Only then does he understand how the kind spirit of Christmas lives on. The storytelling is masterful and Polacco's art is rich with color and energy. 1999, Philomel, $16.99. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature)

   This is a very touching Christmas story which deals with real issues. The children who listen to this story will empathize with Welcome, who was taunted and teased by his new classmates. Welcome Comfort is a little foster boy who becomes friends with the school janitor, Mr. Hamp. Through their friendship, Comfort learns to believe in Santa Claus and the importance of relationships with other people. Fiction. n/a. 1999, Philomel, Unpaged, $16.99. Reviewer: Dawn Cobb (Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 12, No. 3))
Best Books:
• Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 H.W. Wilson; United States
• Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, September 1999 ; Cahners; United States
• Smithsonian Magazine's Notable Books for Children, 1999 ; Smithsonian; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
• South Carolina Book Awards, 2001-2002 Nominee; South Carolina
• Young Hoosier Book Award, 2003 Nominee; Indiana
ISBN: 0399231692

When Lightning Comes in a Jar
Patricia Polacco
   Inspired by her own family reunion, Polacco weaves a magical story of anticipation and tradition. Trisha is anxiously awaiting the arrival of dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Grandma reassures Trisha that all the old rituals will be the same, but this year she promises a new treat--lightening in a jar. Sure enough, there are gazillions of Jell-O salads, zillions of meatloafs, and lots of cakes and pies. Next comes baseball, croquet, seed-spitting contests, and draft horse rides. Children are measured and then the aunties fetch the old photo albums. They try to outdo each other with fantastic memories and the children are mesmerized. They tell of rides in newfangled motorcar contraptions and of the first flying machine in the state that spews smoke and looks like a giant dragonfly. With each event Trisha awaits the promise of lightening in a jar, but the magic does not happen until the last rays of the sun leave the grass. As canning jars are brought out, Grandma touches the grass and chants "Stars will rise from earth below, in these hands their light will glow." The night sky is filled with lightening bugs! Delighted with the magic, the children grow up and continue all the traditions for their children. This is a heart-warming story set with nostalgic watercolor drawings that will surely inspire readers to capture and hold on to family traditions. 2002, Philomel Books, $16.99. Ages 4 to 10. Reviewer: Laura Hummel (Children's Literature)

   This is a refreshing story told through the eyes of a young girl regarding the joys and traditions of her family's reunions. Readers will discover the foods, activities, and family stories retold to help carry on the history of older members who are no longer alive. Patricia Polacco does a wonderful job creating and illustrating stories regarding the family. I used this book in my classroom, along with a Venn diagram, to compare and contrast family reunions. The children enjoyed the book so much it was easy for them to remember the details to compare with their own. Fiction. Grades 2-5. 2002, Philomel Books, Unpaged, $16.99. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Dawn Cobb (Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 15, No. 2))
Best Books:
• Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2003 H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0399231641

 

Added 01/30/04

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