On Friday April 28, OHES students and staff had the privilege of meeting Patricia Polacco, the beloved children’s author and illustrator of more than 100 books, including The Keeping Quilt, Meteor, and Thundercake. Patrica Polacco writes stories about events from her life, about people she has known, about tradition, about kindness, and about family. Patricia met with groups of students during the day, and was the guest of honor at a lunch reception in the LMC.
During her presentations, Patricia retold a few of her stories in dramatic fashion, including whining and foot stomping during the retelling of Babushka’s Doll, and with an accompanying whirring sound of a meteor falling to earth with a thud as she retold Meteor, a true story about an actual meteor that landed at her grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan. In addition, she shared the story of The Keeping Quilt, a quilt that was made over 100 years ago from articles of clothing that belonged to Patricia’s great grandmother Anna and relatives that she left behind in Russia during the last part of the 19th century. Patricia brings an exact replica of the quilt with her to school visits, as the original quilt is preserved and on display at the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio. About her storytelling, our students described Patricia as “entertaining,” “hilarious,” and “so much fun.”
Patricia also shared the difficulty she had growing up with dyslexia, and being ridiculed for not being able to read like the rest of the kids her age. She revealed that she did not learn how to read until she was 14 years old. This painful story is beautifully told in Thank You, Mr. Falker, a tribute to her teacher who believed that she was incredibly bright and who helped her deal with her disability. She also talked about being part of a group of friends who experienced bullying because they were “different” from other kids for various reasons, including her friend Frank Oznowicz, a boy who had glasses, braces and a high-pitched voice, and a boy named Tom, who was poor and had holes in his shoes. These two boys are known today as Frank Oz (the muppeteer and YODA) and Tom Hanks (the famous actor). As she told these stories of childhood difficulties, she implored our students to “Go out of your way to be kind. You'll never regret it.” Our students were inspired by her message of kindness and compassion. One student said that Patricia Polacco’s presentation made him “want to be a better person,” and many others shared that they became inspired to write stories. Patricia’s message was felt profoundly by everyone who was in the audience, including staff and parents.
Many thanks are owed to OHSPA for funding Patricia Polacco’s visit to OHES this year. We are so grateful for their continued support of library-related activities.