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Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 07/01/2014 In her latest semiautobiographical picture book, Polacco deftly explores her childhood fear of public speaking. When her English teacher asks Patricia to read an essay in front of the class, she begins to shake and feels like she has gulped handfuls of sand. She is more comfortable behind the scenes, and while working on the set design for the school play, she inadvertently memorizes every line. When the lead abruptly moves out of town, everyone looks to Patricia to take her place. With the support of her drama teacher, Mr. Wayne, she agrees to take on the role, overcomes her stage fright, and confidently shines during the play. Realistic pencil-and-marker illustrations across double-page spreads capture young Patricia’s utter vulnerability, as well as her transformative performance at the story’s end. Early elementary readers will relate to the self-doubt Polacco expresses, and they will also find vicarious comfort through her supportive relationships with teachers, as well as her ultimate triumph over fear. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2014 Young Patricia can’t read her essays aloud in front of the class, no matter how much kind encouragement her teacher, Mr. T., gives her. When he introduces her to drama teacher Mr. Wayne, she finds herself painting sets for the school play and eventually becoming the line prompter after Mr. Wayne discovers she has memorized the entire script. Her knowledge and courage are called upon when the star of the show suddenly leaves school and her classmates turn to Patricia. With Mr. Wayne’s support and coaching, she conquers her stage fright and learns the joy of performance in this illustrated memoir of the author’s own struggles with public speaking. Though the text rambles on a little, the conversational tone of first-person narration establishes a pleasing intimacy. Polacco’s pencil and marker illustrations are expressive and immediate, leaving readers with no doubt of her protagonist’s fear, excitement, and ultimate sense of triumph. Details of mid 20th-century school life, most notably in the characters’ saddle shoes and knee-length circle skirts, create a sense of time and place while remaining accessible, and the depictions of Mr. T. and Mr. Wayne are particularly dynamic and even tender. Dedicated to the real Mr. T. and Mr. Wayne, this title makes a lovely tribute to teachers and their life-changing impact on the author and countless other young people. AA - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 07/01/2014 Gr 3–6—Polacco has done it again! She has taken a personal story from her past and turned it into a lesson for us all. In the process, she has praised another teacher, but in this case, it's two teachers. Polacco describes her favorite English teacher, Mr. Tranchina, who asked her to share an essay with the class. She was so terrified that she couldn't utter a single word. That very day Mr. T. conferred with the drama teacher, Mr. Wayne, and Patricia was invited to help with the winter play. She had no interest whatsoever in playing a role, but in the process of participating in the acting exercises, she began to get used to emoting a tiny bit. At the same time, she listened in on all the rehearsals while painting scenery and soon found that she knew every line in the play. A week before the first performance, the lead and her family suddenly moved away. The only one who could fill the role was Patricia—she knew the lines, and she knew the stage directions. What she didn't know was how to get the "dust and sand" out of her throat enough to say the lines. Mr. Wayne's advice to "Let the play take you" and his unshakable faith in her ability gave her the courage to step out from behind the curtain. Polacco's realistic, vibrant illustrations convey a range of emotions, especially her own, which vary from utter terror to extreme exuberance. She credits Mr. Wayne with enabling her to now speak to audiences of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.