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Chicken Sunday
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About the Author

Patricia Polacco (www.patriciapolacco.com) is the beloved New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of over fifty picture books. She visits as many as two hundred classrooms in a single year, not only speaking but listening to the hundreds of children that she meets. Grateful for what teachers have done for her, she is also a popular keynote speaker celebrating teachers everywhere. She lives in Union City, Michigan, where she enjoys speaking to the myriad children who come to visit her and the famous meteor, the object of one of Patricia's best-known stories.

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Polacco--in the role of young narrator--introduces another cast of characters from her fondly remembered childhood. Brothers Stewart and Winston often invite the girl to join them and their Gramma Eula Mae--whose choir singing is ``like slow thunder and sweet rain''--at the Baptist church and to come for Miss Eula's bountiful chicken dinner. When the children hear Miss Eula longing for the fancy Easter bonnet in Mr. Kodinsky's hat shop, they plot to raise the money to buy it for her. Sharing her own family tradition, the narrator teaches the boys how to decorate Russian ``pysanky'' eggs, that both turn a profit and touch the heart of the crotchety immigrant hatmaker. Without being heavy-handed, Polacco's text conveys a tremendous pride of heritage as it brims with rich images from her characters' African American and Russian Jewish cultures. Her vibrant pencil-and-wash illustrations glow--actual family photographs have been worked into several spreads. Other telling details--Russian icons, flowing choir robes, Mr. Kodinsky's concentration camp tattoo--further embellish this moving story--a tribute to the strength of all family bonds. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Gr 1-3-- Despite the differences in religion, sex, and race, Winston and Stewart Washington are young Patricia's best friends, and she considers their grandmother, Miss Eula, a surrogate since her own ``babushka'' died. On Sundays, she often attends Baptist services with her friends, and Miss Eula fixes a sumptuous fried chicken dinner with all the trimmings, after stopping to admire the hats in Mr. Kodinski's shop. The youngsters hope to buy her one, but when they approach the merchant looking for work, he mistakenly accuses them of pelting his shop with eggs. To prove their innocence, the children hand-dye eggs in the folk-art style that Patricia's grandmother had taught her and present them to the milliner. Moved by the rememberance of his homeland, the Russian Jewish emigre encourages the children to sell the ``Pysanky'' eggs in his shop and rewards their industry with a gift of the hat, which Miss Eula proudly wears on Easter Sunday. Polacco's tale resonates with the veracity of a personal recollection and is replete with vivid visual and visceral images. Her unique illustrative style smoothly blends detailed line drawing, impressionistic painting, primitive felt-marker coloring, and collage work with actual photographs, resulting in a feast for the eyes as filling as Miss Eula's Chicken Sunday spreads. The palette is equally varied, while the application of color is judiciously relieved by sporadic pencil sketches. An authentic tale of childhood friendship. --Dorothy Houlihan, formerly at White Plains Pub . Lib . , NY

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