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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.
``It started that summer two years ago, the one that steamed into Oakland like a thief in the night''‘Polacco's (Pink and Say; Tikvah Means Hope, see p. 133) use of language is characteristically fluid, and her emotion-suffused illustrations are equally compelling. But her ``modern myth'' is problematic: the conflict is modern and realistic while the resolution is mythic and supernatural, and the effect is jarring. The story unfolds in a park where a homeless boy, Fondo, befriends a blind goose, two homeless adults and the park keeper, Stephanie Michele. Their relationships deepen, and Fondo shares with them his belief that "we all could fly once.... We just forgot how. If we'd think hard enough, we'd remember." Near the end of the story, when social workers come for Fondo, he flies away, led by the blind goose. "I know this is a true story because, you see, I know Stephanie Michele," the narrator says as the text concludes, compounding the uneasiness in Polacco's mix of gritty problems and miraculous solutions. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Gr 2-4-Polacco introduces an unusual cast of characters in this modern myth. Stephanie Michele works in the park caring for the wildlife, and, unofficially, for the homeless folks who live there. A boy, Fondo, shows up one day and seems to belong. Stephanie and Fondo share a sensitivity to nature that others can't comprehend or appreciate. Then, they learn that the people at the settlement house where Fondo lives plan to send him away because he is a special-needs case. He runs away and accepts an invitation by the geese to fly away with them. The park "family" vow to keep his disappearance a secret, but readers are let in on this "true story" because Polacco knows Stephanie Michele personally. This picture book that points up the need for acceptance of all sorts of people is filled with graceful language and deftly rendered multimedia artwork done in predominantly earth tones. The artist places her subjects center stage on the white pages and does an expert job of capturing their poses and expressions with an economy of line and touches of color. This title is similar to Polacco's Boat Ride with Lillian Two Blossom (Philomel, 1988; o.p.) in the suspension of reality, yet her writing always seems somehow, magically, to make anything possible.-Sharon R. Pearce, San Antonio Public Library, TX
"Polacco's characteristic illustrations in warm brown, peach, and green capture the vulnerability of the unwanted boy, the beauty of the wild geese, and the solid strength and loving warmth of Stephanie Michele". -- Kirkus Reviews