Friday, August 10, 2012

The Keeping Quilt

"The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco is about handing
down memories of one's ancestors.
      Patricia Barber Polacco (b. July 11, 1944, Lansing, Michigan) is the author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children.
      She struggled in school because she was unable to read until age 14 due to dyslexia; she found relief by expressing herself through art. Polacco endured teasing and hid her disability until a schoolteacher recognized that she could not read and began to help her. Her book Thank You, Mr. Falker is Polacco's retelling of this encounter and its outcome.
      Her family is of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other. The early years of Polacco's childhood were spent at her grandmother's farm in Union City, Michigan, the setting for many of her published stories. She now resides on another farm in Union City, originally called The Plantation. Although Polacco's grandmother died in 1949, when Polacco was only 5, "Babushka," or grandmother in Russian, nevertheless appears in several of Polacco's books.
      After her grandmother's death, the family moved to Coral Gables, Florida, and then three years later to Oakland, California. Polacco's parents had divorced when she was three, and she and her brother therefore spent their early life living in two places: school years with their mother in the bustling environment of Oakland, California, and summers with their father and his parents on a farm in Michigan. Polacco was discouraged in school and did not learn to read until she was nearly fourteen. In junior high school, one of her teachers finally discovered that dyslexia was the reason for her not demonstrating confidence. In high school, she became friends with Frank Oz. Polacco wrote "When Lightning Comes in a Jar" as a tribute to her babushka, and to her Detroit Tiger cousin Billy. Patricia Polacco attended a University, majoring in Fine Art. She received her graduate degree and eventually received a Ph.D. in Art History. Patricia Polacco did not start writing and illustrating her first children's book until she was 41 years old.
      Following the 40-year absence from the home of her youth, Polacco returned to Union City. With her daughter, son, husband, and parents she continues to write books that are like her life.

Patricia Polacco talks with school children about 
"The Keeping Quilt" and also reads the book aloud.

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