My Ol' Man
ISBN 039928225

The Story

From School Library Journal

Polacco excels at personal narrative woven in words and pictures. Here, she tells the story of the summer her father, a lovable, flimflamming traveling salesman, discovers an ancient rock with mysterious lines that he believes to be magic. Da shows it to young Patricia and her somber brother, Ritchie, who seem convinced of the rock's powers as well. When their father is fired from his job, Ritchie is sure that the rock will help them; in its own way it does. Da writes a story about it and submits it to the local radio station, which then hires him to write stories of magic, hope, and dreams to be broadcast on the air. Returning to the rock to say "thank you," they discover it is gone. It is then that Patricia realizes that the magic had been inside them all along. The sentimental portraits Polacco paints are both intimate and universal from the interior of Da's car, its dashboard littered with the detritus of a traveling salesman, to the interiors of the house with a wheelchair-bound Grandma, her artistic fingers twisted with arthritis and her hose drooping. So successful is Polacco at communicating through her vigorous words and watercolors that readers know these people and their modest, comforting environment instantly. A tender story that will not only remind readers of the necessity of believing in magic, but also renew memories and spark discussions of their own talismans.

Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT

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