Patricia Polacco was born on 11 July 1944 in Lansing, Michigan, USA. Patricia is the author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children.
Although she struggled in school and was unable to read until age 14 due to dyslexia, she found relief by expressing herself through art. Patricia Polacco endured teasing and hid her disability until a schoolteacher recognised that she could not read and began to help her. Thank you, Mr Falker is Patricia Polacco’s retelling of this encounter and its outcome.
The early years of Patricia’s childhood were spent at her grandmother’s farm in Union City, Michigan, the setting for many of her published stories. The farm, originally called The Plantation was established in 1859 and was part of the Underground Railroad. President Lincoln actually visited the home during his presidency. A meteorite that fell into the front yard of that farm “(Meteor!)”is now used as their family’s headstone. Although Patricia’s grandmother died in 1949, when Patricia was only 5, “babushka,” or grandmother, nevertheless appears in several of Patricia’s books.
After her grandmother’s death, the family moved to Coral Gables, Florida Coral Gables, and then 3 years later to Oakland, California. Patricia’s parents had divorced when she was 3, and she and her brother therefore spent their early life living in two places: school years with their father and grandparents in the multicultural environment of Oakland, California and summers with their mother and her parents on a farm in Michigan. Patricia had a very difficult time in school and did not learn to read until she was nearly 14. In junior high school, one of her teachers finally discovered that dyslexia was the reason for her difficulties. Patricia wrote “When Lightning comes in a jar” as a tribute to her babushka, and her Detroit tiger cousin Billy Polacco.
Following the 40-year absence from the home of her youth, Patricia returned to Union City, where she currently resides. Patricia’s home is often opened up to the public for writing seminars and children’s literature festivals. Patricia does all of her own illustrations, and since she does not own a computer, responds to all letters with a hand-written reply. Whenever Patricia speaks with children, her advice is always the same: “Turn off the TV and LISTEN…LISTEN…LISTEN.” Patricia Polacco used to babysit Tom Hanks. Patricia Polacco was a good friend of pupeteer Frank Oz when in school. Patricia mentioned at an assembly in Amelia Earhart School that his first puppet was Paper Bag Man.
1988 Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Keeping Quilt
1989 International Reading Association Award for Rechenka’s Eggs
March 10th 1990 Santa Clara Reading Council
Author’s Hall of Fame
Commonwealth Club of California Recognition of Excellence for
1990 Babushka’s Doll
1992 Chicken Sunday (Nov. 14th 1992 declared Chicken Sunday)
1992 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Golden Kite Award for Illustration for Chicken Sunday
1992 Boston Area Educators for Social Responsibility
Children’s Literature and Social Responsibility Award
Nov. 9th 1993 Jane Adams Peace Assoc. and Women’s Intl. League for Peace and Freedom Awards
Honor Award for Mrs. Katz and Tush for it’s effective contribution to peace and social justice.
Parent’s Choice Honors
1991 Some Birthday
1997 Video/Dream Keeper
1998 Thank You, Mr. Falker
1996 North Dakota Library Association Children’s Book Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
1996 Jo Osborne Award for Humor in Children’s Literature
1997 Missouri Association of School Librarians
Show Me Readers Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
1997 West Virginia Children’s Book Award for Pink and Say
1998 Mid-South Independent Booksellers for Children Humpty Dumpty Award
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