THANK YOU MR. FALKER
The first book to start with must be Thank You Mr. Falker. This book sets the stage for the rest of her work. In it, Patricia shares how she learned that she had dyslexia. She did not learn to read until she was twelve years old I believe (so most children realize that their struggles may not be so bad). I can not read that book without tearing up, and I am sure you are likely the same. With this set, the skills I focused on were author’s craft and visualizing. The writing prompt is focused on bucket filling.
THE KEEPING QUILT
If you read Chicken Sunday, you’ll certainly see Patricia’s Russian/Ukrainian influence in this story. You might explore the topic of immigration with paired nonfiction books about Ellis Island. In this book, there are references to several artifacts including pysanky eggs, and of course, family traditions.
Depending on the time of year, you may opt for Christmas Tapestry instead. In this book, two Holocaust survivors are reunited at a local rundown church that’s been given new life when Pastor Jonathan comes to town. It is based on a true story, and it too weaves in family traditions from Patricia’s childhood.
MY ROTTEN REDHEADED OLDER BROTHER
Although I haven’t created a unit for Some Birthday, it is a favorite of mine. In this book, Patricia’s bummed out that no one seems to remember her birthday, and just when she thinks it’s all over, the family surprises her in a very fun and unique way.
WHEN LIGHTNING COMES IN A JAR
When Lightning Comes in a Jar is a great one for family traditions. It’s about Patricia’s family reunion. You meet many family members in this one, and it’s a great one for the end of the year or summer school. Of course this family reunion would not be complete without catching fireflies.
Patricia’s grandmother was a very important part of her life. She encouraged Patricia at times when she really needed it, and she helped Patricia overcome several challenges. In Thunder Cake, Patricia is terrified of storms. Her grandmother helps her get through this fear by making thunder cake with her.
THE BEE TREE
MR. LINCOLN’S WAY
In addition to Junkyard Wonders, The Art of Mrs. Chew and Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece feature Patricia’s experiences at school, but there’s one more that I really like too. It’s Mr. Lincoln’s Way. Each hits at different points in Patricia’s life, and as I’m writing this up, I can not recall the order. You might preview them or check on Patricia Polacco’s website [here] to learn more about each book as well as about her biographical information. Mr. Lincoln’s Way features a very special administrator who takes a little boy under his wings and helps him find success at school. I just see so many kids in his face. Sometimes it takes something special to help children find success.
FOR THE LOVE OF AUTUMN
Patricia’s books are not all tied to her life, but you’ll see her writing style is consistent with unrelated titles too. I love the sweetness of For the Love of Autumn, and this book works well for most any child who loves animals. Teachers love it because it tells about the life of a teacher too. It’s a great choice for problem solving.
JUST PLAIN FANCY
Another title I have enjoyed using with my students is Just Plain Fancy since most are unfamiliar with the Amish way of life. It provides an opportunity for students to learn cultural difference and appreciating each other.
I’ve shared a brief bit of information on my favorites, but what are yours? Maybe your list would be the same, or maybe you’re favorite list would include a few others. I know one day I will add Pink and Say and Rechenka’s Eggs to my list. I may also create something for Betty Doll. Oh, I just love her writing, and I hope you do too.