Northwoods International School hosted Patricia Polacco, an internationally renowned children's book author Monday morning. Polacco delivered a message to young students on love, respect and perseverance.
"I would like [kids] to know they have great power," Polacco said
For someone who has written more than 100 children's books, one might be surprised to learn that Polacco did not begin that career until she was 41 years old. Her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and she wanted a simpler way to show him what he needed to do every day to stay healthy. That was one of her first creations that caught the attention of publishers.
Polacco has now written over 100 books, including a book called Meteor! based on a family story of a meteorite crashing into her parents backyard that eventually became a local attraction and a teachable moment.
"The meteor was kind of the catalyst that they used to show [...] the three wishes."
It became known as "the wishing rock" and her father would only allow people to make a wish if they didn't wish for money, to change another person or for material possessions.
"They chose this as a mechanism to make us aware that the world needs us, it's not [about] what the world's going to give us," Polacco said. "What are you going to give the world?"
Polacco grew up with dyslexia and says she didn't know what gifts she had to give the world until late in her life. In addition to being an award-winning author and illustrator, she travels speaking to children all over the country telling them that their gifts are inside, no matter what.
"They are more magnificent than the world is telling them," said Polacco.
"Most of these students, you know picking up a book is still a challenge for them," said Sara DePaolo, a Title I Teacher at Northwoods Int'l. "But, to see an author that's written and published so many books and illustrated them herself, [it's] just another opportunity for them."
Most of all, Polacco said she wants kids to know that through kindness and perseverance, anyone has the power to change the world.
"We're all going to have things happen to us that are not wonderful," Polacco said. "Your choice is how you're going to use it."
Polacco also shared a story of a childhood friend in Oakland who had a higher pitched, nasal sounding voice even through puberty. She said he was the subject of ridicule until he began using his voice to make others laugh through puppetry and turned that into a world renowned career.
We now know her childhood friend as Frank Oz, Muppets creator and voice of the Star Wars character, Yoda.
Northwoods International School held a session for parents with Polacco at 6:30 pm Monday night.