I Can Hear the Sun

( 5 )

Overview

Fondo's life is sad and lonely until he meets Stephanie Michele. She takes care of the geese who live on the shore of Lake Merritt, and when Fondo shows up there one day, she lets him help. But now the geese are preparing to fly south for the winter, and Fondo says that they've invited him to join them. Is hope enough to accomplish a miracle? Patricia Polacco masterfully intertwines themes of friendship, homelessness, and faith to create a beautiful modern myth.

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Overview

Fondo's life is sad and lonely until he meets Stephanie Michele. She takes care of the geese who live on the shore of Lake Merritt, and when Fondo shows up there one day, she lets him help. But now the geese are preparing to fly south for the winter, and Fondo says that they've invited him to join them. Is hope enough to accomplish a miracle? Patricia Polacco masterfully intertwines themes of friendship, homelessness, and faith to create a beautiful modern myth.

Stephanie Michelle, who cares for animals and listens to the sun, believes the homeless child, Fondo, when he tells her that the geese have invited him to fly away with them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``It started that summer two years ago, the one that steamed into Oakland like a thief in the night''Polacco's (Pink and Say; Tikvah Means Hope, see p. 133) use of language is characteristically fluid, and her emotion-suffused illustrations are equally compelling. But her ``modern myth'' is problematic: the conflict is modern and realistic while the resolution is mythic and supernatural, and the effect is jarring. The story unfolds in a park where a homeless boy, Fondo, befriends a blind goose, two homeless adults and the park keeper, Stephanie Michele. Their relationships deepen, and Fondo shares with them his belief that "we all could fly once.... We just forgot how. If we'd think hard enough, we'd remember." Near the end of the story, when social workers come for Fondo, he flies away, led by the blind goose. "I know this is a true story because, you see, I know Stephanie Michele," the narrator says as the text concludes, compounding the uneasiness in Polacco's mix of gritty problems and miraculous solutions. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
An orphan boy lives in a settlement house, but he spends a great deal of his time with homeless friends in the park. When the boy is going to be sent away and leave these friends, he is magically transformed into a goose and soars to freedom. It is unusual and not as credible a story as one would expect from Polacco. The pictures, however, are marvelous.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Polacco introduces an unusual cast of characters in this modern myth. Stephanie Michele works in the park caring for the wildlife, and, unofficially, for the homeless folks who live there. A boy, Fondo, shows up one day and seems to belong. Stephanie and Fondo share a sensitivity to nature that others can't comprehend or appreciate. Then, they learn that the people at the settlement house where Fondo lives plan to send him away because he is a special-needs case. He runs away and accepts an invitation by the geese to fly away with them. The park "family" vow to keep his disappearance a secret, but readers are let in on this "true story" because Polacco knows Stephanie Michele personally. This picture book that points up the need for acceptance of all sorts of people is filled with graceful language and deftly rendered multimedia artwork done in predominantly earth tones. The artist places her subjects center stage on the white pages and does an expert job of capturing their poses and expressions with an economy of line and touches of color. This title is similar to Polacco's Boat Ride with Lillian Two Blossom (Philomel, 1988; o.p.) in the suspension of reality, yet her writing always seems somehow, magically, to make anything possible.-Sharon R. Pearce, San Antonio Public Library, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Polacco (Babushka's Mother Goose, 1995, etc.) adds to her list of memorable characters in this somewhat mawkish tale of throwaway (homeless) people, a blind goose, and a park keeper named Stephanie Michele. The orphan Fondo spends his summer days sitting on a park bench in a nature preserve on Merritt Lake, watching the homeless people and the geese. Stephanie Michele, a big-hearted, middle-aged African-American woman, welcomes and befriends Fondo. She teaches him to help her care for the geese, shows him a blind goose who needs a little special help, and gives him an official park shirt. The goose becomes Fondo's special charge; in fact, he spends so much time caring for the geese that the throwaway people tease, "Pretty soon, you're gonna turn into a goose!" When Fondo learns he will be sent away as a "special needs" child, he wishes he could fly away with the geese—and does.

The title page calls this story "A Modern Myth," but most of its elements are too grounded in reality to achieve mythic status. The most fanciful aspects may be the cute bag lady and jolly Vietnam vet. Polacco's characteristic illustrations in warm brown, peach, and green, capture the vulnerability of the unwanted boy, the beauty of the wild geese, and the solid strength and loving warmth of Stephanie Michele. If only the rest of the book were as real as she is.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698118577
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 229,451
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.56 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is about hope because a homeless boy named Fondo finds his way to a lake and meets Stephanie Michelle. She is a caretaker at the lake. Surprisingly they can both hear the sun. They found that out because one day Stephanie Michelle said,¿ Do you know the names of the geese?¿ Fondo said,¿ yes. I can hear the sun.¿ The sun told him the names of the geese. One day a man named Doctor Patterson said that Fondo is a special case and that he needs to leave. The next day Fondo ran back to the lake. He said,¿ the geese asked me to fly away with them.¿ Then Fondo started to lift into the air and flew off into the orange sky. You might like this book because it is interesting and cool when the boy flies off into the sky at the end of the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    An Outstanding Book!

    ¿This book is one of Polacco¿s best. Her marvelous word choice and the way she writes weave through this enchanting myth. Stephanie Michelle, the caretaker of the lake portrayed in this story, can hear the sun, just as a homeless boy named Fondo can. Together, they embark on a journey of friendship, in which Fondo befriends many, and finds out who he really is. He finds out that he isn¿t a slow-learning kid. He is, as Stephanie and all his friends say, ¿Special alright. The most loving and gentle soul I have ever known.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    AWESOME BOOK

    This has to be one of her bests! Great job!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2001

    A Wonderful Book For Kids Of All Ages

    I have used this book with sixth graders, fourth graders, and adults at inservices and all have enjoyed and remembered this book. There is a suspension of reality at the end, but I have found this to be great with lessons on drawing conclusions. Rarely do I find materials that are of this great quality and work with as wide a range of audiences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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