CMSD NEWS BUREAU
Author and artist Patricia Polacco picked up a gymnasium jammed with kids at CMSD’s Robinson G. Jones School and transported them into her world.
By all accounts, the kids — as well as the teachers and anyone else within earshot of the dynamic 70-year-old speaker — were glad she did.
“Our students were incredibly engaged,” said R.G. Jones instructional coach Denise Riley, who helped arrange the program with Marlene Gombach of the book fund. “They know the books, their teachers make sure they know the books. The books are really great read-along books for older students, but really great read-to-the-class books for teachers.”
Polacco spoke to the elementary school students for nearly an hour and rarely lost their attention, mixing personal experiences (she was bullied and functionally illiterate until age 14), family history (a Russian grandmother first told her that all stories contain elements of truth, “whether they happened or not”) and characters from her own books (featuring a certain “idiot, red-haired older brother.”)
But the most compelling story, judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, was a combination of all three – the tale of the strange powers coming from the remnant of a meteor that landed in her grandparents’ front yard. The tale, whether wholly factual or not, became Polacco’s book “Meteor!”
The magic stone was said to grant wishes to those who came with a pure heart, for those who did not ask for any of three things: money, a change in someone else or any possession that could be otherwise purchased (“Toys! Toys! Toys!,” Polacco exclaimed to make her point to the kids.)
“You can wish for anything else, and that’s up to you, but also think about what you might do for someone else,” she challenged the students.
Polacco also used her stage to remind the CMSD scholars of something about themselves.
“You are all gifted,” she said. “Some of us just open our gifts later.”