Polacco, Patricia. Thank You, Mr. Falker. Illustrated by Patricia Polacco. Philomel, 1998. ISBN 0-3992-3166-8. $16.99. Unpaginated. A 3-5 FI Reviewed by Carla Morris One of the most prominent illustrators of children’s books takes pen in hand to thank a former teacher. Thank You, Mr. Falker, an autobiography of Patricia Polacco, encourages people to take the time to thank those who have made a difference in their lives. Patricia (Trisha in the book) has a hard time reading. Five years ago, the thought of going to school and learning to read was exciting for her, but now the teacher has to help her with every single word. All she sees are wiggling shapes, and when she tries to sound out words, the other kids laugh at her. Trisha is a talented artist, and as the words and school get harder, she spends more time drawing. One day Trisha asks her grandmother if she is different. Her grandmother’s answer is “To be different is the miracle of life. You see all of those little fireflies? Every one is different.” Finally, Trisha moves from Michigan to California. But she has the same difficulties, even in the new school. Reading is a torture. The kids still laugh and tease and make her feel dumb. When she starts fifth grade, her teacher Mr. Falker becomes a friend, encourages her artistic talents, makes sure that no one teases her, and best of all, stays after school to help her learn to read. This book is dedicated to George Falker, the real Mr. Falker, who helped Polacco learn to read and to know that she was special.
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