Patricia Polacco shares stories from her childhood

Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of "Pink and Say," "My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother" and dozens more children's books, listens to a Burns Park student before he makes a wish on her family's magic wishing rock, which she holds in her hand.

By Tara Cavanaugh

It should be no surprise that world-famous children’s author and illustrator Patricia Polacco comes from a long line of storytellers.

The author and artist, who visited Burns Park Elementary today to celebrate Reading Month, shared with students stories inspired by her childhood and her family.

Polacco told the tale of “Babushka’s Doll,” acting out the rude and impatient protagonist Natasha and her difficulties with a doll who came to life and turned out to be just as rude and impatient as Natasha.

“If you’ve seen that book, the grandma in it looks exactly like my grandma did,” she said. “And when I was drawing that book, my mother stood next to me at the drawing board and she said, ‘Tricia, that little girl, she looks exactly the way you did.’ She acts the way you did too!’”

Next, she pulled out an exact replica of her family quilt that was featured in “The Keeping Quilt.” The original quilt was a compilation of fabric from family members, including a piece of a dress worn by her great-grandmother, who immigrated from Russia.

“Now the original quilt, I still have it, has become so old it’s literally disintegrating,” Polacco said. So 15 years ago, her daughter worked with her quilting guild to make an exact replica using vintage materials.

Donning a replica of her family's quilt, Patricia Polacco shows students how she used to pretend to be Superman.

She saved the most magical story for the end. “Meteor!” is based on the tale of a meteor that landed in the front yard of her grandparents’ farm. The rock is known for granting wishes to whoever touches it.

“The only time it was moved was when my grandmother passed. My grandpa sold our farm and had the family name carved in the side and took it to the graveyard where grandma is buried. That is where it is until this day,” she told the students.

“Busloads of people come to Union City every summer now to touch what is known as the Wishing Rock. Busloads! And every July, we have a meteor festival in my town.”

Polacco brought a palm-sized piece of the rock with her. As students left the auditorium, one by one they touched the rock in Polacco’s hand and made a wish.

Polacco also visited Lawton Elementary and Bach Elementary March 27.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article! Thanks!

    You might want to add a section about Polacco’s visit to Bach in the afternoon yesterday. She was great there, too!

    -Trevor Staples

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