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Thank You, Mr. Falker Hardcover – May 7, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Polacco's (Thundercake; Pink and Say) work know well her talent for weaving her colorful family history throughout her picture books. Here Polacco shares her childhood triumph over dyslexia and discovery of reading in an inspiring if slightly formulaic story. Young Trisha is eager to taste the "sweetness of knowledge" that her grandfather has always revered (here symbolized by drizzling honey onto a book and tasting it, which harkens back to Polacco's earlier The Bee Tree). But when she looks at words and numbers, everything is a jumble. Trisha endures the cruel taunts of classmates who call her "dumb," and falls behind in her studies. But finally the encouragement and efforts of a new fifth grade teacher, Mr. Falker, trigger a monumental turning point in Trisha's life. She begins to blossom and develop all of her talents, including reading. Polacco's tale is all the more heartfelt because of its personal nature. Young readers struggling with learning difficulties will identify with Trisha's situation and find reassurance in her success. Polacco's gouache-and-pencil compositions deftly capture the emotional stages?frustration, pain, elation?of Trisha's journey. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4AOnce more Polacco shares a personal story with engaging results. This moving saga of her struggle with a learning disability makes an inspiring picture book. Young Tricia wants desperately to read but when she starts school she finds that the words "wiggle" on the page. Teased by her classmates, she retreats into dreams and drawings. It's not until the family moves to California and Tricia has managed to reach the fifth grade that a new teacher finally recognizes her pain and distress. What's more, he does something about it. Without belaboring the point, the author clearly shows the ways that children internalize critical comments made by others and suffer for their differences. This touching story is accompanied by illustrations in Polacco's signature style. Youngsters, as well as adults, may find themselves choked up at the emotions so eloquently described in words and pictures. Yet, like the tears young Tricia cries at the end of the book, these are ultimately tears of joy. Thank you, indeed, Mr. Felker (the real name of the teacher involved) for making it all possible. Readers will be grateful for the chance to recognize, appreciate, and share in Polacco's talent and creativity.ALisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; Slp edition (May 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399237321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399237324
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.7 x 11.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Claudia C.Bright on March 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Even though Thank You, Mr. Falker is a children's book, it is one of the most incredible and profound books I have ever read. It is a "must-read" for every child and teacher, whether new or experienced. The text and the picture blend so perfectly together, just like all picture books should. The pictures portray the feelings of a little girl who is obviously alone and so in need of love and recognition.
I introduced Thank You, Mr. Falker to my principal, assistant principal,and instructional facilitator(IF) the Monday morning after I had read it. They all loved it as much as I did. (Our assistant principal even left a note on the front of the book, stating her review: "WOW". Our IF was about to instruct the teachers in our school on differentiating instruction; she thought this book would demonstrate that topic very well. I asked her if I could read the book to them at each of their grade-level meetings. Many tears were shed as we shared this special story.
This story may help teachers to realize how important they can be in the life of every student who walks through the doors of their classroom. We may never know what impact our interactions with a child will have on a "Patricia Polacco" in-the-making.
I am glad Thank You, Mr. Falker has been nominated for South Carolina Children's Book of the Year for 2000-2001. I predict the children of SC will love it as much as our teachers did.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Colleen D. Gallagher VINE VOICE on August 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Patricia Polacco bases this story on her own experiences as a child. She uses the story in this beautiful book to thank her fifth grade teacher, Mr. Falker. In the book, Tricia, who has a yearning to learn to read because of her family's love of learning, discovers that letters in books seem to be all just wiggling shapes. As Tricia moves through school, students call her dumb. She sadly begins to except their teasing and begins to believe she truly is dumb; until, Fifth Grade when she is blessed with an outstanding teacher, Mr. Falker. Every classroom should not only have this book, it should be read aloud. Without saying the word "dyslexia" or preaching, Polacco has produced a wonderfully compassionate story.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As I slowly read through the pages of this wonderful book, I was touched. I found myself making connections to the young girl and her struggles. I understand what it means to be a struggling reader. I remembered a special teacher who made a difference in my life and helped me to read. As a teacher, I read the book to my class. At the end, my second and third graders had a lot to say! They connected with the character and her struggles too. We shared our own struggles with life. Their struggles ranged from reading and learning to play a new sport to relationships and friendships. The students had made connections. As a techer, I want all my students to make real connections to books, find passion in reading, and treat others kindly. This book really helped my students to see the importance of all these things in a very real way!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One of the most touching children's books I've read in recent memory, this autobiographical story by the great Patricia Polacco tells how "Tricia" overcame her reading problems with the help of a compassionate teacher. Polacco's story evokes the attendant feelings of inferiority and isolations, as well as her grateful joy upon finally reading an entire paragraph.
The story opens with a family ritual later expanded into a full story in Polacco's "The Bee Tree": Her grandfather drizzles some honey on a book cover and tells her "knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book."
Polacco draws in her trademark big loopy style; her palette and composition superbly capture emotion, particularly in the close-ups. She can convey a range of feelings simply by how she places color on a person's face. She's one of the most original and recognizable illustrators around. One of the most heartfelt and moving books you'll find in children's literature.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By X. Libris on October 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The honey is sweet, and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee who made the honey, it has to be chased through the pages of a book."
Young Tricia, a fictionalized version of author/illustrator Patricia Polacco, struggles with reading, while enduring the teasing of her classmates from kindergarten through 5th grade, hoping to realize her grandfather's proverb in her own life.
This emotionally gripping story about a child who deals with what is now called dyslexia is the true story of many children throughout the years. My wife, like Patricia Polacco, attended school in an era when this learning disability didn't have a name. She was like Tricia when the caring Mr. Falker said, "But, little one, don't you understand, you don't see letters or numbers the way other people do. And you've gotten through school all this time, and fooled many, many good teachers!" My wife finally made sense of all those "wiggling shapes" on the page in the 6th grade, and she hasn't stopped reading since.
This is just to say this is a TRUE STORY for many children. And it's told (and illustrated) in a manner that will enable other children understand and empathize with the struggles, the feelings of loneliness and rejection, and the ultimate joy of victory (not to mention the warmth and security of loving grandparents)!
I have read "Thank You, Mr. Falker" to many first and second grade classes in our elementary school library, and in every case you could hear a pin drop by the time we got to the third page! This book should be required reading for every teacher, and should be a staple in every elementary school library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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