Friday, October 22, 2010

Patricia Polacco

Are you ready for another phenomenal author / illustrator?   Once you discover Patricia Polacco for yourself, you'll be asking, "So do I like her captivating storytelling OR her stylized illustrations better?"  Well, it's certainly a toss up!  Polacco draws from her personal experiences when writing and illustrating.  She also incorporates diversity and universal themes in her stories.  After you become acquainted with her charming books, you'll be stunned to find out that Polacco didn't learn to read until almost 14 years of age when she discovered she had dyslexia.  Read her biography at  Her story is similar to her colleague Jerry Pinkney in that they both triumphantly overcome their era's odds against learning disabilities.

Of course, Emma Kate is our family's personal favorite.  Emma Kate narrates the endearing friendship between a young girl and a young elephant.  Both do everything together; they go to school together, ride their bikes together, they even have their tonsils out together. The colorful marker illustrations juxtaposed against the pencil drawings help to differentiate the twist at the end of the story.  Note that you'll probably have to explain the story's twist to your child.

Thunder Cake originates from Polacco's experience with her Babushka (Russian grandmother) who helps her conquer her fear of the intimidating sound of thunder.  Grandma coaxes her granddaughter out from underneath the bed by persuading her to help make a Thunder Cake.  Count the thunderclaps as granddaughter gathers the cake ingredients, and discover what happens in the end.  Polacco includes the Thunder Cake recipe!  Check out this great story, and help a child of any age overcome his/her fear of thunderstorms.

Here are two more Polacco books we just checked out as we get ready for our trip to a goat farm tomorrow.  G is for Goat catalogs the alphabet with letter by letter discriptions of goats and their activities.  Oh Look! gives Polacco's darling retelling of "going on a bear hunt" when three children chase three runaway goats.  See how far the children have to pursue the goats before they're frightened into returning home.  We love the fetching images of goats in these two books that are best suited for kindergarten ages and younger.

We enjoy so many of Polacco's books that it's too difficult to spotlight them all in one post.  Instead, I'll have to spread out our top Polacco recommendations over the course of the next year or so.  Do note that I have not read all of Polacco's books like I have for most of the authors I highlight.  So please comment on Polacco's books that work best for your family!

1 comment:

  1. I love her!!! Just a few weeks ago I read one of her books to my 2nd grade class--"My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother". It's so cute and a great book to prompt writing for personal narratives.