Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Patricia Polacco

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.

Literary Awards

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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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Ross Macdonald

Ross Macdonald was born on 13 December, 1915 in Los Gatos, California and died on 11 July, 1983 in Santa Barbara, California of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Ross Macdonald was the pseudonym of the American-Canadian writer of crime fiction Kenneth Millar. Ross Macdonald is best known for his highly acclaimed series of hardboiled novels set in southern California and featuring private detective Lew Archer.

Ross Macdonald was raised in his parents’ native Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, where he started college. When his father abandoned his family unexpectedly, Ross Macdonald lived with his mother and various relatives, moving several times by his sixteenth year. The prominence of broken homes and domestic problems in his fiction has its roots in his youth.

In Canada, he met and married Margaret Sturm in 1938. They had a daughter, Linda, who died in 1970. Ross Macdonald began his career writing stories for pulp magazines. Ross Macdonald attended the University of Michigan, where he earned a Phi Beta Kappa key and a Ph. D. in literature. While doing graduate study, he completed his first novel, The Dark Tunnel, in 1944. At this time, he wrote under the name John Macdonald, in order to avoid confusion with his wife, who was achieving her own success writing as Margaret Millar. Ross Mcdonald then changed briefly to John Ross Macdonald before settling on Ross Macdonald, in order to avoid mixups with contemporary John D. MacDonald. After serving at sea as a naval communications officer from 1944 to 1946, he returned to Michigan, where he obtained his Ph.D. degree.

Ross Macdonald’s popular detective Lew Archer derives his name from Sam Spade’s partner Miles Archer and from Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Ross Macdonald first introduced the tough but humane private eye in the 1946 short story “Find the Woman.” A full-length novel, The Moving Target, followed in 1949. This novel (the 1st in a series of 18) would become the basis for the 1966 Paul Newman film Harper. In the early 1950s, he returned to California, settling for some 30 years in Santa Barbara, the area where most of his books were set. (Ross Macdonald’s fictional name for Santa Barbara was Santa Teresa; this “pseudonym” for the town was subsequently resurrected by Sue Grafton, whose “alphabet novels” are also set in Santa Teresa.) The very successful Lew Archer series, including bestsellers The Goodbye Look, The Underground Man, and Sleeping Beauty, concluded with The Blue Hammer in 1976.

Ross Macdonald is the primary heir to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as the master of American hardboiled mysteries. Ross Macdonald’s writing built on the pithy style of his predecessors by adding psychological depth and insights into the motivations of his characters. Ross Macdonald’s plots were complicated, and often turned on Archer’s unearthing family secrets of his clients and of the criminals who victimized them. Lost or wayward sons and daughters were a theme common to many of the novels. Ross Macdonald deftly combined the two sides of the mystery genre, the “whodunit” and the psychological thriller. Even his regular readers seldom saw a Ross Macdonald denouement coming.

Inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ross Macdonald’s writing was hailed by genre fans and literary critics alike. Author William Goldman called his works “the finest series of detective novels ever written by an American”.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Alfred Van Vogt

Alfred Van Vogt was born on a farm in Edenburg, a Russian Mennonite community east of Gretna, Manitoba, Canada, Alfred was one of the most popular and highly esteemed science fiction writers of the 1940s. Alfred Van Vogt’s first published Science Fiction story, “Black Destroyer” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939), was inspired by The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. In the 1950s, van Vogt briefly became involved in L. Ron Hubbard’s projects. Alfred Van Vogt operated a storefront for Dianetics, the secular precursor to Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, in the Los Angeles area for a time.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was born on 2 April, 1805 and died on 4 August, 1875. Being an author of children’s fantasy stories, Hans Christian Andersen was a victim of dyslexia and showed the world that when you want something, nothing can stop you from obtaining it. The books that he wrote have been translated into hundreds of different languages and continue to be distributed even today in millions of copies. Hans wrote books such as “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Princess and the Pea” “Thumbelina”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid”.

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Epilepsy Series-Disabled Legend Truman Capote

Truman Capote – born Truman Streckfus Persons in New Orleans, Louisiana was born on 30 September 1924 and died on 25 August 1984. Truman was an American writer whose stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. Capote once said, “I don’t care what anybody says about me, as long as it isn’t true”. John Knowles says that Capote “induced epilepsy himself by abusing his nervous system with drugs and booze” An autopsy showed Mr. Capote had an infection in his legs and signs of epilepsy, but no conclusive information was disclosed about the cause of the author’s death.

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Epilepsy Series-Disabled Legend Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe was born on 19 January, 1809 and died on 7 October, 1849. Edgar Allen Poe was a member of the Romantic Movement, mostly as an author and literacy critic. He had written books and short stories and he is best known for his macabre and mysteries, he is the one who invented the Detective-Fiction genre. For many years people have referred his mental problems to alcohol and drug abuse but, today many believe that he was not well diagnosed. Many now believe he may have been epileptic which would sometimes explain his frequent confusion.

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Cerebral Palsy Series-Disabled Legend Chris Fonseca

Chris Fonseca is an Comedian and works the American comedy club circuit and has written material for such comedians as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Roseanne Arnold. Chris Fonseca is the first (and only) person with a visible disability to entertain on The Late Night Show with David Letterman, something that had not been done in the show’s 18 year history. Chris allows his Cerebral Palsy to be the foundation of many of his stories. He notes that this helps to break down many preconceived barriers about CP. He has released 2 CDs, 1997’s Not Tonight, I Have Cerebral Palsy and 2001’s Get in the Van.

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