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Personal Stories

Patricia Polacco

By: Patricia Polacco

Wish Upon a Meteor

Patricia Polacco

The book that I wrote, Meteor, is a true story. It is a fact based story that started when a meteor landed in the front yard of my grandfather's farm here in Union City, Michigan. It happened when my mother was a little girl. SHE saw it happen! But over the years, that meteorite has been the object of speculation, dream, and curiosity for local folks...and now since the book has been written, for folks just about EVERYWHERE.

When my grandmother told me the legend of the meteor, she also told me a very special secret...The secret is that it can grant wishes...merely by touching it!

When I come to visit schools, I bring a piece of it with me and invite the children I talk to touch it and make wishes!

However there are rules for the wishing! There are three wishes that cannot be made!

  1. You cannot wish for money.
  2. You cannot change other people (but you can always change others by the way you treat them)
  3. You cannot wish for possessions and toys!!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT WOULD YOU WISH IF THE METEOR WAS THERE WITH YOU RIGHT NOW? The meteor is now our family headstone and rests in the little cemetery here in my little village.

Almost all of my stories are family based stories. I love writing about my family because they were such "characters"! I try very hard to honor them and their memory. My mother's people were Russian and Ukrainian. My father's people were Irish. My extended family are African America. All of these cultures tell wonderful stories! All of my life I was used to HEARING wonderful stories...not SEEING THEM! We did not own a T.V., we couldn't afford one. So our evenings were spent sitting in front of a fire and listening to glorious stories being told by people we loved.

Growing up with a Learning Disability

Illustration from the book Thank You Mr. Falker

I'LL BET NONE OF YOU KNEW THAT I WAS A LEARNING DISABLED STUDENT THAT GREW UP!!!! If I were in your school today, I would be in special classes. I could not read well until I was 14 years old! I couldn't do math, and sometimes I couldn't even write legibly. I remember, vividly, when I was little, feeling like I was dumb. I couldn't understand why all my classmates were doing so well in school and I was not! My worst nightmare was having to read in front of my classmates. Reading was soooo hard for me The teacher had to help me on almost every word. Sometimes my classmates would laugh at me. THAT MADE ME FEEL WORSE! Some of the "mean" kids would follow me out onto the playground and call me names and makes me feel really, really, bad.

When I was 14, a teacher got me expert help. It was discovered that I have DYSLEXIA, DYSNUMERIA and DYSGRAPHIA!!! What that means is that my eyes would see words or numbers on a page of a book then my brain would change them so that I always got the wrong answer!! I would say some thing that wasn't there. I had to work very hard to learn to read and communicate through writing in long hand. But when I did, school became a wonderful place for me to be!

I found out that "learning disabled" people are actually geniuses!! We HAVE to be smarter just to get information into our heads that most people do very easily. Every adult that I have met that is VERY, VERY, VERY TALENTED AND SUCCESSFUL had a background where there was difficulty learning.

I LEARN DIFFERENTLY than you do, but I am in no way DUMB! I even have a PhD in art history and I have written and illustrated over 50 books. So if any of you are in "special classes" know that you are unique indeed, and that you are going to be more successful that most people when you grow up.

I wrote a book about my struggle in school in Thank You, Mr. Falker.

The last thing I want to say to all of you is this, PLEASE DON'T TEASE KIDS WHO ARE DIFFERENT, OR HAVING PROBLEMS. You are only making it worse. Promise me, no more teasing!!!! Keep in mind, someday you may need their help or support. They'll remember that you teased them!

More About Me and My Family

I was born here in Michigan, but moved to Oakland, California in 1954. My parents were divorced and my Dad stayed here in Michigan. I spent the school year in Oakland with my Mother, then I spent every summer here in Michigan with my Dad.

Illustration from the book Thank You Mr. Falker

I had the best of both worlds. In Oakland I was luck enough to live in a neighborhood where my neighbors came in as many colors, religions and traditions as there are people are earth. I was very much a city environment...lots of hustle and bustle.

My summers were with my Dad who lived in a small farming village. He loved horses and raised Tennessee Walking Horses. I even had my own horse...Penny. I wrote about her in my book, Mrs. Mack.

I lived in California for almost 37 years...but always felt that Michigan is my home... So...in 1995 I moved from Oakland back to my beloved Michigan! I found this wonderful old historical farmstead here in Union City. I have named it..."Meteor Ridge". This old house was built in 1857, during the Civil War. It is said that Abraham Lincoln stopped here on his way to Burlington (five miles down M-60 from here) to make the Burlington address. At that time this house was a stage coach stop.

I have lots of land and goats, sheep, horses, and every kind of squirrel, raccoon, bird and flower. The joy of my life is to sit on my porches and sip nice strong tea and watch all of the animals come to my various feeders.

I have a brother. His name is Richard and he lives in California. I wrote a book about him called Rotten Red Headed Older Brother! He's quite gray now, but does still have a hint of red in his beard. He is the father of 8 children!

Illustration from the book Thank You Mr. Falker

I am the mother of 2! I have a daughter, Traci, who lives at the moment in Kalamazoo where she is attending classes. I also have a son, Steven. He and his wife, Leah, live in Kalamazoo as well. He was a college professor and his wife is an actress and director.

I share my home with 4 cats! Miss Chief (the oldest, pronounced mis'chif), Miss Gray, Boo (because we found her on my doorstep on Halloween night) and Barn Cat. I also have 3 cats. I also have 3 cats at my studio. Blackie, Stripie and Snowbank (because he was found last winter almost frozen to death in a snow bank.)

My barnyard is also expanding...

I have a Belgian Mare, Dolly. Last year she presented me with a little filly, Penny. This year she presented me with another little filly! We have named her Fanny. Now I have 3 Belgian horses! I collect and drive carriages, so I have horses that pull buggies, that is what they are trained for!

Some Advice

Illustration from the book Thank You Mr. Falker

Some children ask me for advice about writing books. Children also tell me that they write books. Especially for class! HOW WONDERFUL!

My first and primary advice is...READ READ READ

As far as writing...Keep your stories close to your heart. Write about what you KNOW to be true! In order to be a creative writer, you have to turn off the T.V. AND the computer.

My experience is that in order to write, draw, act or sing...one has to be able to "hear" that wondrous voice that lives deep inside of your soul. When you listen real hard, you can hear it...that is where every inspired though you will ever have comes from. The problem with T.V. and electronic things is that they DROWN OUT that voice so you can't hear it.

Ask your teachers...they hear that voice all the time...that's why they are some of the most creative people on the planet.