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THANK YOU, MR. FALKER by Patricia Polacco

THANK YOU, MR. FALKER

By Patricia Polacco (Author) , Patricia Polacco (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-23166-8
Publisher: Philomel

An autobiographical tribute to Polacco’s fifth-grade teacher, the first adult to recognize her learning disability and to help her learn to read. Trisha begins kindergarten with high hopes, but as the years go by she becomes convinced she is dumb. She can draw well, but is desperately frustrated by math and reading. In fifth grade, Mr. Falker silences the children who taunt Trisha, and begins, with a reading teacher, to help her after school. A thank-you to a teacher who made a difference is always welcome, but this one is unbearably sentimental. Although the perspective is supposed to be Trisha’s, many sentences give away the adult viewpoint, e.g., “She didn’t notice that Mr. Falker and Miss Plessy had tears in their eyes.” The extent to which Trisha limns her own misery and deifies Mr. Falker (complete with a classroom version of a “He who is without sin among you” scene) is mawkish. Mr. Falker’s implicit sense of fairness—“Right from the start, it didn’t seem to matter to Mr. Falker which kids were the cutest. Or the smartest. Or the best at anything”—is contradicted when Trisha is the object of praise: Mr. Falker, watching her draw, whispers, “This is brilliant . . . absolutely brilliant. Do you know how talented you are?” Polacco’s disdain for all the other teachers and the students intrudes on Trisha’s more profoundly heartbreaking perspective; the book lacks the author’s usual flair for making personal stories universal. (Picture book. 5-9)