Patricia Polacco’s newest book, The Junkyard Wonders, can be used during the first month of the school year when you’re teaching students about the climate of respect (for differences) you expect*. This exquisite picture book, based on a real-life event from Polacco’s life, is an excellent companion to Thank You Mr. Falker, a book I used to read to my fourth and fifth graders every September. In addition, The Junkyard Wonders can serve as a mentor text in Writing Workshop.
Like all of Polacco’s books, the intro page draws you right into the world of the story. Page one makes readers want to read the whole text. You can share the intro page of the book with students, talking about how Polacco’s introduction in The Junkyard Wonders serves as a gateway to the rest of the book.
Here’s a look at the intro page of The Junkyard Wonders:
One thing I always admire about Polacco’s books are the author’s notes she includes at the end. My students and I loved reading her author’s notes since they provided us with more information about what inspired her to write a given story. Polacco’s author’s notes provide readers with insight on the back story as well as information about what happened after the book was over (e.g., see the author’s notes in The Butterfly and in The Lemonade Club). If you’d like your students to dabble with writing author’s notes at the end of their published personal narratives, memoirs, or works of short fiction, then consider using the author’s notes from Polacco’s books as a mentor.
This is the author’s note from The Junkyard Wonders:
* = Looking for more books to build and strengthen classroom community? Click here to read Mary Lee Hahn’s article, “Community First: Using Read Aloud to Strengthen Classroom Connections,” at ChoiceLiteracy.com.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.