I love Patricia Polacco. I dream of getting to go to her summer festival in Michigan and getting to see the Meteor in person. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to see her 3 times in my life, but I could listen to her all day any day. The first time I heard her speak was at the Dublin Literacy Conference as a keynote speaker. She loves teachers and can be very political. It was a very inspiring and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one hanging on every word. Why I can get so fired up by an author with a vision, and not the many political candidates, is another story.
The second time was when she came to our school last year for an author visit. Students had been thoroughly steeped in her books and had the opportunity to wish on a piece of that miraculous meteor.
Later that same year, I dragged my daughter to Cover to Cover bookstore when she was there for a talk and signing of her new book The Lemonade Club. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to hear Polacco again, but also provide a little bibliotherapy.
Defining the concept
“Bibliotherapy is the process of using books to help children think about, understand, and work through social and emotional concerns. Reading with children can be therapeutic…. Adults can use reading to help children come to grips with issues that create emotional turmoil for them. Reading can also be…very effective in preventing and resolving behavior problems.”
from Positive Child Guidance by Darla Ferris Miller
I realize that I am jumping around in this post, but time is short, so I’m just going to keep going and combine it all. I also believe that adults benefit from bibliotherapy, using the above definition.
Maggie’s grandmother was going through breast cancer treatment and The Lemonade Club is about not only a little girl who had lost her hair to chemotherapy, but also the story of how loving classmates and a teacher made such an impact on helping this child through a difficult time. As the story progresses, the teacher also ends up battling cancer, but both go on to survive. As with all of Polacco’s books, this one is also based on a true story. The message of friends helping you through difficult times, as well as cancer being beaten were the messages I wanted to have impressed upon my daughter.
For the Love of Autumn tells the story of a young teacher, MIss Danielle Parks, who loves her job-teaching, the students, and also her little kitten. Unfortunately the kitten gets lost during a storm and despite everyone’s best efforts remains unfound. Eventually Autumn, the kitten, returns with a new collar and someone else’s phone number! Someone else had found Autumn and was caring for her. Neither “owner” wants to give up the kitten, but in true Polacco style, what starts as a conflict, ends up being resolved with both owners becoming friends and eventually marry!
Her illustrations are magnificent and will inspire everyone to look at stray kittens in a new light. Another book will be coming out this year and I can hardly wait to see what unfolds under Polacco’s masterful combination of storytelling and illustrations!