We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
I read this book two years ago. A quick search of our GatheringBooks archive revealed that I have yet to feature this Patricia Polacco book. Given our current reading theme, this seems the perfect time to do exactly that.
Thank You Mr Falker (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Published by Philomel Books (2001, first published 1998)
ISBN: 0399237321 (ISBN13: 9780399237324). Literary Awards: South Carolina Book Award for Children’s Book Award (2001), Keystone to Reading Book Award for Primary (2000)
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
The strength of this story, however, lies in the initial hope about all the promise that reading a book can bring, as can be seen from the first page alone when Patricia’s grandfather poured honey onto the book cover and asked her to taste it:
I am not aware of this practice, and this naturally intrigued me. However, this promise of words and stories to come had been cut short when Patricia struggled so much with her letters that she eventually started believing her classmates’ taunts about her being dumb. Yet despite the challenges faced and the bullying she had to endure in her school, I found her close relationship with her family, especially her grandparents, comforting:
It was a new teacher named Mr. Falker who saw through Patricia’s capacity to get by in school, apart from publicly acknowledging her evident talent in art. Mr. Falker’s discerning eye, accepting spirit, and quiet patience eventually led to the discovery that Patricia read differently from the other children. He was able to see past the accommodations that Patricia has craftily learned (such as memorizing passages instead of actually reading them), in order for her to survive her elementary years.
Mr. Falker’s declaration is something that makes me want all my teacher trainees to read this book:
“We’re going to change all that, girl. You’re going to read – I promise you that.”
This confidence matched with dedication and hard work is what makes me feel even more convinced why I am doing what I am doing as a teacher educator. This book also reminded me of another nonfiction title dedicated to a beloved teacher:
Check out other Patricia Polacco titles (see Junkyard Wonders above) that pay tribute to wonderful teachers she had when she was younger: