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Pairing Polacco Favourites

I’m trying to limp back to posting regularly as the past few months have been filled with family, projects that I’ve been working on and travel. 


So here is a Twosday post after ages, well, coz it’s Tuesday!

If you are new here, Tuesdays are when I share 2 books that I have paired together for a certain reason.


Today’s pair you may be familiar with as I have written about them before. 


Thank you, Mr Falker 


Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco.


The books Thank you, Mr Falker and The Junkyard Wonders set against a bright yellow background. A silhouette of an old airplane in white on the right corner. Outlines of clouds and a silhouette of a sun on the
Twosday Pair

Both of these books were part of our selection for the ‘thIS ABILITY’ theme that we focussed on in the library last term. Both of these books gave us the opportunity to talk about ‘unseen’ disabilities.  

Although these books are picture books, they are long picture books which is why I chose to read them to the older children and I had to split the read-aloud of Junkyard wonders over two library sessions. I felt that most 5th/6th and 7th/8th graders are proficient readers who are aware of their peers who cannot read as fluently and maybe these books would help them look at them with understanding and empathy.  

Thank You, Mr. Falker is a heartfelt memoir that tells the story of the author’s struggles with dyslexia and the teacher who helped her overcome it. This is a long story, and the children were quiet except during the scenes of bullying when they expressed indignation. 

What I did notice however were the children who struggled to read. Usually restless during the read aloud sessions, a few pages into the book, they were still, attentive and were deep in thought when the story ended. One of them asked for the book and spent the rest of the time poring over it. 

A quote

I followed this book with The Junkyard Wonders the following week. 

Inspired by a teacher who believes each of them is a genius, a class of special-needs students (the class is called the Junkyard) invents something that could convince the whole school they are justifiably proud to be "Junkyard Wonders."

A quote from The Junkyard Wonders

The children were upset and angry about a classroom being termed as ‘The Junkyard’. A discussion resulted around whether we needed to know who had a disability and whether a classroom that segregated children with special needs, was necessary. Having no personal exposure to people with disabilities, the children were thoughtful and hesitant to express thoughts that they couldn’t quite put together. But one thing that they were sure of was that it was very unfair. As we read the story, children could name and talk about dyslexia, one knew about Tourette’s Syndrome, and were empathetic hearing about the other conditions that children in the book lived with.  

Having split the book into two parts, I was thrilled that the children came into the library the next week, eager to hear the rest of the story. They listened with bated breath, sighing in frustration with every set back and the library erupted in cheers towards the end of the book. 

From the previous book, they knew that the author wrote stories from her own life, what they didn’t expect was the picture and note in the afterword. Their jaws dropped and they looked at each other and exclamations of “Really, Aunty!?!?”, left them wrapped in the magic of a well written story. 

A quote from The Junkyard Wonders

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1 Comment

Great to learn more about Patricia Polacco, thank you! I have one book by her: Just Plain Fancy, that my daughter and I bought after visiting Amish towns. Now I want to buy all her books--well, at least some, as there are so many. The reaction of your students says it all and yes, there are Always some who struggle with reading and need Mr Faulker. May all teachers be as observant and sensitive as he was.

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