Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Patricia Polacco


Almost as if it were magic, or as if light poured into her brain, the words and sentences started to take shape on the page as they never had before.
Quote from Thank You, Mr. Falker

I was set on a course to be an artist – it could be no other way. Thanks to the art of the amazing Miss Chew.
Quote from The Art of Miss Chew

When the children come to the library, I often rhapsodize about an author or a new book and declare that the author under discussion is one of my favorites. Often, a child is quick to remind me that I’ve declared that other authors are my favorites. My response is always the same, “I have so many favorite authors and books.” You have to believe me on this one though because Patricia Polacco is truly one of my favorite picture book authors.

Patricia Polacco illustrates all of her books, and one might describe her as an artist who became an author. That would be doing her a disservice though because she is a natural storyteller. Many of Patricia’s stories come from her own life, and in some of her books readers meet her as a young child surrounded by a caring family.

Up until now, I’ve felt that her book, Thank You Mr. Falker (Philomel, 1998), is one of her best. In that heart-warming tale, she wrote about her struggles with dyslexia and learning to read. School was a nightmare for Patricia and some children taunted her and called her stupid.  All of that changed when a caring teacher recognized that Patricia hid her weaknesses and compensated in other ways. The real Mr. Falker, George Felker, helped Patricia to become a confident reader.

The Art of Miss Chew (Putnam, 2012) could be considered a companion book to Thank You Mr. Falker, and this title is “classic” Polacco. With this story, Patricia pays homage to a special art teacher who recognized the young girl’s talent and mentored her for years. The real Miss Chew understood that Patricia’s artistic talent also explained her reading challenges. In a piece of art, Patricia noticed negative space first. Similarly, when she tried to read words, she saw the space around the letters first.

How fortunate today’s readers are that Patricia Polacco met two such caring and intuitive educators.


Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment:

Skip to toolbar