Patricia Ann Barber was born on July 11, 1944 in Lansing, Michigan. She has anolder brother, Richie.Her mom was a teacher from a Russian/Ukrainian background. Her dad was asalesman who became a television talk show host. He was of Irish descent.Polacco’s parents were divorced when she was three. She lived with her motheron her grandmother’s farm in Union City, Michigan. Polacco later moved toOakland, California with her mother.In recent years she has returned to Michigan to live, dream, and create magicalpicture books for children.“In both Mom‟s house and Dad‟s place there was always a rockingchair, just for me. I spent hours … just rocking and dreaming everyday. I spent a lot of time in my imagination.”
As a young girl, Patricia longed for the day she would be able to read. Her dreams shattered as she struggled to read while her classmates passed her by. Patricia felt dumb and was bullied by her classmates. Finally, in fifth grade, a special teacher, Mr. Falker, realized Patricia saw words in a different way. She was NOT stupid – she was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 14. http://dyslexickids.net/_Dyslexia_.html“I knew that inside I was very smart, but atschool I felt stupid and slow.”
One of Polacco’s most popular books, The Keeping Quilt, is the story of a wonderful quilt that has been in her family through many generations. Many of Patricia’s stories are inspired by her family and their love of storytelling. When times were hard at school, her family always made her feel safe and loved.“Both sets of my grandparents were captivatingstorytellers … they squinted up their eyes, watched ourfaces, and began to „tell‟”
Patricia’s babushka (her Ukrainian grandmother) told her incredible tales in the evening in front of the fireplace. There was no TV in her house! They called this “Firetalking” and Patricia loved hearing her Babushka’s stories over and over again. Babushka’s Doll is a tale about a little girl who bosses around her kind grandmother and the magical doll that teaches her a valuable lesson.“Whenever she finished one of her tales of magic andmystery, my brother and I would always ask, “Bubby isthat a true story?” She would look at us and reply, “Ofcourse it‟s true … but it may not have happened.”
In Pink and Say, Patricia tells a story once told by her great-great-great grandfather and passed down to her. Set during the Civil War, this is a story of a special friendship between two very different boys – one black and one white. Taken prisoner by the Confederates, the boys are separated forever. Patricia’s lifelong friend, Stuart, is an African- American and inspired her to write this book.“Family is more than blood. It crosses generations. Itshould cross race, it should cross gender, it shouldcross all of it. It can be someone you just connect to.”
• Oakland Tech. High School Oakland, California • California College of Arts and Crafts Oakland, California • Laney Community College Oakland, California • Monash University Mulgrave, Australia • Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Melbourne, Australia • PhD in Art History Emphasis on Iconography“My brain scrambles images that my eyes see. But once Igot the hang of it, I went on in school. I even ended upgraduating from college, and getting my Ph.D. in ArtHistory.”
Patricia’s first career was restoring ancient icons for museums.She began writing and illustrating children’s books when she was41 years old! Her first book was Meteor and it was a “mostly true”tale about when a real meteor crashed in the backyard of herfamily home in Michigan. The small Midwestern town went crazy!“I am so lucky … so very lucky! I love my life. Can youimagine doing what you love every day?”
IN HER OWN WORDSPatricia Polacco wrote thisautobiography in 1994 as part of a“Meet the Author” series of booksfor children.She talks about her family, past andpresent, and her childhood strugglesin school.She talks about what inspires herand her love of art.The book includes manyphotographs of Patricia Polacco andher family.
CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ALL OF PATRICA POLACCO’S BOOKS: http://www.patriciapolacco.com/books/index. htmlPolacco’s newest book is also from her childhoodmemories. Recognized for her art talent, young Trisha ischosen for a special art class taught by the high school artteacher, Miss Chew. Check it out at the Byrd School Media Center! “My heart sings whenever I am drawing.”
• Polacco’s books are true memoirs.• Her books celebrate family through generations, tradition, and culture.• Her signature art combines a variety of materials: pencil, markers, acrylics, pastels and uses white space to focus a reader’s attention on characters and story.• Polacco writes about other important themes: friendship, storytelling, tolerance, anti-bullying.• But mostly – through her books and through her author visits, Patrica Polacco empowers children to believe in themselves and always to dream.
• International Reading Association Award for Younger Readers, 1989, for Rechenka’s Eggs• Sydney Taylor Book Award for Picture Books, Association of Jewish Libraries, 1989, for The Keeping Quilt• Commonwealth Club of California Award, 1990, for Babushka’s Doll, and 1992, for Chicken Sunday• Boston Area Education for Social Responsibility Award, 1992• Golden Kite Award for Illustration, 1992, for Chicken Sunday• Jane Addams Award Honor Book designation, 1993, for Mr. Katz and Tush• American Book of the Year Award nomination, 1995, and West Virginia Children’s Book Award, 1997, both for Pink and Say• Jo Osborne Award for Humor, 1996; North Dakota Library Association Children’s Book Award, 1996, and Missouri Show Me Readers’ Award, 1997, for My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother• Parents’ Choice Honor designation, 1998, and Gold Award, 1999, both for Thank You, Mr. Falker• Mid-South Independent Booksellers Humpty Dumpty Award, 1998• 2012 Catholic Library Association Regina Medal Award Winner for her body of work.
ReferencesBloem, P.L. & Manna, A.L. (1999, May). A chorus of questions: Readers respond to Patricia Polacco. The Reading Teacher, 52, 802-808.Johnson, N.J. & Giorgis, C. (2005, September). Patricia Polacco: Weaving Family and Memory into Story. Book Links, 15, 52-55.“Meet Authors and Illustrators: Patricia Polacco.” Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://www.childrenslit.com.“Patricia Polacco.” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Gale Biography In Context.“Patricia Polacco: Patricia Polacco Author Study.” Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://www.readinglady.comPolacco, P. (1990). Babushka’s doll. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.Polacco, P. (1994). Firetalking. Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.Polacco, P. (1988). The keeping quilt. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers.Polacco, P. (1978). Meteor!. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.Polacco, P. (1994). Pink and Say. New York, NY: Philomel Books.Polacco, P. (1998). Thank you, Mr. Falker. New York, NY: Philomel Books.www.patriciapolacco.comNational core content standards. (2012). Retrieved June 14, 2012, from http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standardsStandards for the 21st century learner. (2012). Retrieved June 14, 2012,fromhttp://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_Learning_Standards_2007.pdf