Please click here to read the answers to the questions IPL kids asked Patricia Polacco.
Although she did not begin writing and illustrating children’s books until she was 41 years old, Patricia Polacco grew up with storytellers. As a child, she spent much time with her grandparents who shared stories about the different lands from which they came: the Ukraine, Russia, and Ireland. Her relationships with her grandparents influenced her for the rest of her life. In fact, in almost every one of Patricia Polacco’s books, a very young person interacts with an elderly person.
Polacco spent her early years living on a farm in Union City, Michigan, where she now makes her home. When she was five, she and her mother and brother moved to Florida for a brief time before settling in Oakland, California. There she lived for most of her young life on into her adulthood. What she loved most about her neighborhood in Oakland was the fact that her neighbors came in many different colors and from many different religious backgrounds. Some of these neighbors became models for her story characters.
One of her books, THANK YOU, MR. FALKER draws upon her own experiences. When she was in elementary school, Polacco was not a very good student. Because she struggled to learn how to read and do math, other children teased her and made her feel dumb. When she was fourteen, it was discovered that she had a learning disability called dyslexia. One of her teachers, Mr. Falker, found out what was wrong with her and got her the help that she needed. He also got the other students to stop teasing her. Polacco’s book celebrates the special influence of Mr. Falker in her life.
Patricia Polacco attended Ohio State University and earned a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and a Ph.D. in Art History. After leaving school, she restored ancient pieces of art for museums. Polacco then became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and she devoted most of her days to their education and upbringing. When they were older, Polacco combined her love of storytelling and drawing into writing and illustrating children’s books. With dozens of books to her credit, she continues to work on creating new works for children and all of those who love stories and art.
Some of Patricia Polacco’s books include the following:
Babushka Baba Yaga
The Keeping Quilt
Luba and the Wren
- Why do Amish people interest you?
I live near them and I admire them and the way they live.
- Is it fun to write books? Which do you like better: illustrating or writing?
Yes, it’s fun to write books. I also like to illustrate and write, but it depends on each book as to which will be more challenging.
- Which of your books is your favorite?
That’s like asking me which one of my kids is my favorite. I love them all for different reasons.
- Who has inspired you?
- Are you going to write more folktales like BABA YAGA?
Yes, as a matter of fact, my most recent book is taken from a tale about the fisherman and the flounder. My book is called LUBA AND THE WREN.
- Do you do egg art? Is it hard to do?
Yes, I do egg art, but not as often as I would like to. It is hard to do, but very rewarding. Like anything else, if you keep practicing, it gets easier.
- What story or tale did you enjoy the most as a child and why?
I enjoyed MILLIONS OF CATS by Wanda Gag. I loved her illustrations.
- Which do you think is more important: to write about subjects you know, or to write about subjects that you think will appeal to young audiences?
Absolutely write about what you know, feel, and are…to do otherwise is unauthentic.
- What will your next book be about?
It’s a very special Christmas story called WELCOME COMFORT.