Patricia Polacco

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Patricia Polacco
Born (1944-07-11) July 11, 1944 (age 71)
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Author, illustrator
Nationality American

Patricia Barber Polacco (born July 11, 1944, Lansing, Michigan) is an American author and illustrator.

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 school teacher 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. She also wrote such books as Mr. Lincoln's Way and The Lemonade Club.

Early years[edit]

She is of Russian and Ukrainian-Jewish descent on her mother's side and of Irish on her father's side.[1][2]

She was born in 1944, the daughter of a teacher and a salesman turned talk show host. Her parents divorced when she was three years old. She, her mother, and her brother went to live at her paternal grandmother's farm in Union City, Michigan, the setting of many of her stories. After her grandmother's death, the family moved to Coral Gables, Florida, and then three years later to Oakland, California. She and her brother spent their early life living in two places: school years with their mother in Oakland, California, and summers with their father and his parents 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 lack of confidence.[3] Although her grandmother died in 1949, when Polacco was only five years old, she appears in several of Polacco's books.[4]

In high school, Polacco became friends with Frank Oz. She wrote When Lightning Comes in a Jar as a tribute to her grandmother (referred to as "Babushka" in her books), and a cousin. Polacco attended Ohio State University and earned a M.F.A. and a PhD in Art History. She did not start writing and illustrating her first children's book until she was 41 years old. She resides in her native Union City, Michigan, although not on her family home, but on a different property which she purchased, which was originally known as "The Plantation".[4]


Barber married twice. She had two children, Traci and Steven, with her first husband. That marriage ended in divorce. Her second husband, Enzo Mario Polacco (m. August 18, 1979), is a chef and cooking instructor.[5]


Other media[edit]

  • Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair. Video, Color, 23 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1996)
  • Babushka's Doll. Audio Cassette (New York: Scholastic, 1995)
  • The Butterfly. Audio Cassette (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1996)
  • The Butterfly. Video, Color, 30 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1996)
  • Chicken Sunday. Audio Cassette (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1992)
  • Chicken Sunday. Video, Color, 14 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1992)
  • The Keeping Quilt. Video, Color, 13 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1993)
  • Meteor! Audio Cassette (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1999)
  • Meteor! Video, Color, 13 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1999)
  • Mrs. Katz and Tush. Video, Color, 29 minutes (Lincoln, NB: Great Plains National, 1993)
  • Patricia Polacco: Dream Keeper. Video, Color, 23 Minutes (New York: Philomel, 1996)
  • Parents, Kids & Books: The Joys of Reading Together. Video, Color, 30 Minutes (Dallas, TX: Kera Productions, 1993)
  • Pink and Say. Audio Cassette (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1996)
  • Pink and Say. Video, Color, 28 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1996)
  • Rechenka’s Eggs. Audio Cassette (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1991)
  • Rechenka’s Eggs. Video, Color, 11 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1991)
  • Thank You, Mr. Falker. Audio Cassette (St. Petersburg, FL: Spoken Arts, 1999)
  • Thank You, Mr. Falker. Video, Color, 23 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1999)
  • Thunder Cake. Video, Color, 13 minutes (New Rochelle, NY: Spoken Arts, 1990)
  • The Lemonaid club. book, 2007

Literary Awards[edit]

  • 1988 Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Keeping Quilt
  • 1989 International Reading Association Award for Rechenka’s Eggs
  • March 10, 1990 Santa Clara Reading Council
  • Author’s Hall of Fame
  • Commonwealth Club of California Recognition of Excellence for
1990 Babushka’s Doll
1992 Chicken Sunday (Nov. 14th 1992 declared Chicken Sunday)
  • 1992 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
  • Golden Kite Award for Illustration for Chicken Sunday
  • 1992 Boston Area Educators for Social Responsibility
  • Children’s Literature and Social Responsibility Award
  • Nov. 9th 1993 Jane Adams Peace Assoc. and Women’s Intl. League for Peace and Freedom Awards
  • Honor Award for Mrs. Katz and Tush for its effective contribution to peace and social justice.
  • Parent’s Choice Honors
1991 Some Birthday
1997 Video/Dream Keeper
1998 Thank You, Mr. Falker
  • 1996 North Dakota Library Association Children’s Book Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
  • 1996 Jo Osborne Award for Humor in Children’s Literature
  • 1997 Missouri Association of School Librarians
  • Show Me Readers Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
  • 1997 West Virginia Children’s Book Award for Pink and Say
  • 1998 Mid-South Independent Booksellers for Children Humpty Dumpty Award
  • 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Blessing Cup[6]

Articles written about Polacco[edit]

  • Vandergrift, Kay E. "Peacocks, Dreams, Quilts, and Honey: Patricia Polacco, A Woman's Voice of Remembrance," In Ways of Knowing: Literature and the Intellectual Life of Children. Ed. By Kay E. Vandergrift. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996, pp. 259–288.
  • Vandergrift, Kay E. "Patricia Polacco," in Twentieth-Century Children's Writers. ed. by Laura Berger. 4th ed. Detroit: St. James, 1995. 759–760.
  • Profile,; accessed July 8, 2015.
  • Interview,; accessed July 8, 2015.


  1. ^ Patricia Polacco profile,; accessed July 7, 2015.
  2. ^ The Trees of the Dancing Goats,; accessed July 7, 2015.
  3. ^ The Polacco Farm.; accessed July 7, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Who Am I?,; accessed July 7, 2015.
  5. ^ Profile,; accessed July 8, 2015.
  6. ^ 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by AJL, January 21, 2014

External links[edit]