To date, Patrica Polacco has writtten over 70 books. Many of them have an underlying theme of righting wrongs within the school or community - bullying, prejudice, poverty, disabilities. But with her wonderful, vibrant illustrations and colorful text, you are gently guided towards a fair resolve without even knowing you are learning tolerance and love in the process. She also writes books about family times: baking Thunder Cake when a storm is brewing, her older brother with red hair, her best friend getting cancer.
One of Ms. Polacco's most well-known stories is one titled The Keeping Quilt. It is about immigrants leaving the old country and never seeing those left behind ever again. But with scraps of the clothing of the parted relatives a quilt is made...and to future generations their stories are told. And, yes, this is based upon Patricia's own true story.
As she was talking about the making of this book and the generations before hers, many of my own memories surfaced: how Grandma R. was a baker with heavenly orange-frosted rolls, how Grandma N. raised a flock of seven as an early widow, how my Mom changed her clothes before Dad came home for dinner, how we packed up to go to an early breakfast in the mountains. However, my attention quickly refocused when I heard her voice asking, "Would you like the see the real Keeping Quilt? I brought it with me!"
Oh. My. Goodness.
Would I ever LOVE to see the real Keeping Quilt! And she pulled it out of a very ordinary looking bag, all folded up like it was something you could see every day.