It’s Monday What Are You Reading?: Patricia Polacco and James Howe

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts

Anytime that Patricia Polacco publishes something new, I know it’s going to be a treasure;  The Art of Miss. Chew is exactly that.  
In this picture book memoir, Polacco picks up her story sometime after her experiences with Mr. Falker.  She has grown to love school, and her new teacher, Mr. Donovan, has the wisdom and insight to recognize both Patricia’s learning challenges (she was dyslexic and disgraphic) as well as her gift for art.  Soon, thanks to Mr. Donovan, she is taking special art classes with the lovely Miss. Chew every Tuesday, and learning how to make her sketchpad and paint sing.  But Mr. Donovan leaves for spell, and the substitute teacher almost puts an end to Patricia’s dreams of being an artist, until Miss. Chew intervenes and gets the school to provide the  reading specialist Patricia so desperately  needs.

 Like “Thank You, Mr. Falker”,  “The Art of Miss Chew” is a story about the difference a teacher can make in a students’ life.  But Polacco had another, equally important,  message to impart:

“Violet Chew not only taught me to hoe see, but how to perceive, evaluate, and appreciate the beauty of art.  The tragedy is that today, too often monies are no longer available in any public schools to support art, music, drama, or descriptive arts programs. How could this be? Art teaches us to speak a language that originates in the heart, the soul, and the earliest memories. How could any course be more important?”

I also had the chance to pick up two new YA books and finish at least one: James Howe’s Addie on the Inside.

This is a companion to The Misfits and Totally Joe, neither of which I’d read, but this did not get in the way enjoying Addie immensely…which was partly due to Howe’s hilarious (and true) subtitle: “This Purgatory of the Middle School Years”.    And how many times in one day do I view some event in the hallway, the classroom, the lunchroom, and think to myself just that?!
Anyway, Addie is in seventh grade, and dealing with many issues – her strong, outspoken personality, the popular kids, her grandma moving, the boy who makes her “insides flip,” and the crazy stuff that’s going on in the world.
Told in verse form, with each poem a scene or reaction or musing about an event, Addie is a wonderful journey through the school year – through the perspective of a wiser-than-her-age character you cannot help but empathize with and love.  Especially when she begins by asking:

They say in the seventh grade
you are who they say you are,
but how can that be true?
… can I be all that and 
still be true to the real me
while everyone is saying:


 And then who finishes up with:

I am who I say I am.
I’m not some fantasy.
I am the me I am inside.
I am who

I choose

to be.

I love books with characters like Addie – strong girls who notice everything, have honest opinions, and are fearless in pursuit of what is real and true.

The book I am still working on: The Whole Story of Half a Girl.


8 thoughts on “It’s Monday What Are You Reading?: Patricia Polacco and James Howe

  1. I love the idea of Miss Chew. My grandson (& parents) just visited this weekend & told me his last 3 quarters of art was taken up with test prep instead of art! Hard to believe they don't have to keep that curriculum & what must the art teacher feel? So sad. I love the idea of your Addie book; it sounds great, & the last one you are reading. These are two more I've not heard about Tara. Thank you!

  2. I haven't read any of these!!!! That what I love about this meme, I always hear about books I haven't read. I have heard of these but haven't read any of them. Addie on the Inside really sounds great. Adding to my TBR! Thanks!

  3. Polacco is a marvel, I'm sure to enjoy anything she writes. One of my favorite authors and she keeps on coming out with something new. Can't wait to read this one!

  4. I've read both The Misfits and Totally Joe, but have not read Addie On The Inside, yet. I think you will really enjoy the first two James Howe books.

  5. I love Patricia Polacco! She is a brilliant picture book author & illustrator. I have tried to read all of her books, but I have't read Miss Chew- I'll have to pick it up at the library during my next trip. Happy reading this week πŸ™‚

  6. I've never heard of this Patricia Polacco book! I'll have to immediately look for it and tell my teacher friends about it. I'll have to check out Addie on the Inside! Happy reading to you! Thanks for sharing your titles with us!

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