The Art of Miss Chew

The Art of Miss Chew

5.0 3
by Patricia Polacco
     
 

After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She's thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew's special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she's wasting time on art when she should be studying - but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!

This

Overview

After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She's thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew's special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she's wasting time on art when she should be studying - but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!

This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child's life - and celebrates the power of art itself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As she did in Thank You, Mr. Falker and The Junkyard Wonders, Polacco pays homage to an influential teacher from her childhood—in this case, two of them. Trisha’s homeroom teacher, Mr. Donovan, who has “a laugh that sounded like bells ringing,” realizes that Trisha needs extra time to finish (and thereby pass) tests. He also recognizes her artistic talent and arranges for Trisha to join Miss Chew’s high school art class. The girl immediately feels at home under the tutelage of Miss Chew, who is of Chinese descent and whose grace and warmth emanate from Polacco’s vibrant portraits (Miss Chew is often seen in brightly patterned dresses and paint-spattered smocks, arms spread wide). Emotionally and artistically, Trisha connects with the woman, who emphasizes the need “to see” rather than merely look at one’s subject; Miss Chew also pinpoints the cause of Trisha’s reading troubles, though a one-note villain of a substitute teacher threatens Trisha’s progress. The joy of artistic creation and the value of teachers who are willing to look outside the box come through clearly in the first-person narrative and Polacco’s fluid illustrations. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Booklist
"The moving memoir will resonate with any student who has struggled with reading and should also spark empathy among their classmates."
Library Media Connection
"In this heartfelt autobiographical picture book, Patricia Polacco pays tribute to her first art teacher, Miss Violet Chew."
From the Publisher
"The joy of artistic creation and the value of teachers who are willing to look outside the box come through clearly in the first-person narrative and Polacco's fluid illustrations." — Publishers Weekly

"Full of color and movement. . . . [Polacco's] first-person narration tells her tragedy and triumph in a very down-to-earth way, using the tone of the 11-year-old she was." — Kirkus Reviews

"The moving memoir will resonate with any student who has struggled with reading and should also spark empathy among their classmates." — Booklist

"Heartwarming tribute. . . . Detailed representational paintings bring to life scenes that evoke both true sorrow and absolute joy." — School Library Journal

"In this heartfelt autobiographical picture book, Patricia Polacco pays tribute to her first art teacher, Miss Violet Chew." — Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
From Polacco's striking cover, through endpapers and illustrations, this book is dedicated to ART and Miss Violet Chew, an inspiring teacher who taught the young author how to see and how to draw. As a child, Polacco, then living in Oakland, California, had trouble reading and completing tests because she saw words in patterns and shapes. First to realize the problem was her classroom teacher, Mr. Donovan, a young Irishman with unruly red hair, who saw her drawings and introduced her to Miss Chew and her art classes. The beautiful and elegant artist (even her paint-spattered smock is chic), took Patricia under her wing and not only inspired her to become an artist, but also came to her rescue with a reading specialist when Patricia's school threatened to stop her art studies. Vibrant illustrations, done in pencil and marker, bring a freshness and transparency to her own story, capturing a young girl's despair and elation, the humor and vitality of Mr. Donovan, Miss Chew's beauty and dedication, and the negative rigidity of the substitute teacher who sees no value in art. Polacco's strengths are her brilliant sense of color, her bold use of pattern and detail, and her ability to convey emotion through faces and body language. Some memorable spreads show Patricia's shingled Craftsman-style house in Oakland, Miss Chew's expressive hands gesturing as she teaches, and Patricia riding in the artist's gorgeous royal blue convertible. A satisfying finish takes viewers to the students' final show to delight in the exuberant paintings (including Patricia's), the food, the decor, and Miss Chew in her formal orange and lime-green Chinese gown. In a letter to readers, Polacco offers her thanks for the life and influence of this extraordinary teacher. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Readers familiar with Polacco's often-autobiographical work will recognize this picture book as another heartwarming tribute to an adult who interceded when young Trisha was most vulnerable. This time, the author looks back with gratitude to an art teacher. Drawing was the only positive aspect of Trisha's school day, but she was almost robbed of that pleasure by a substitute teacher who tried to remove her from Miss Chew's class. Fortunately Mrs. Spaulding did not prevail, and Miss Chew not only inspired the child's artistic talents but also played a key role in unraveling the mystery of her reading disability and getting her the proper support. Polacco's recall of events in her past is remarkable, and the detailed representational paintings bring to life scenes that evoke both true sorrow and absolute joy. Libraries will definitely want to add this gem to their collections.—Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Art is a language, and the right teacher can change a life is the twin message of this personal story from the exuberant author/illustrator. Polacco provides an unabashedly autobiographical account of a year in grammar school with the Irish Mr. Donovan, who understands that she needs additional time to work at written tests. He also introduces her to Miss Chew, an art teacher, and both immediately recognize Trisha's emerging talent—although the Chinese Miss Chew hears her name as "Ther-esa" and calls her that ever after. It is Miss Chew who discerns Trisha's talent at perceiving negative space and connects it to her difficulties in school: She sees words as patterns, not letters. When Mr. Donovan is called to Ireland upon the death of his father, the substitute will not allow Trisha extra time on exams and tries to keep her from art class. Right prevails—and Trisha gets to have a painting in the high-school art fair, even though she is so young. Polacco's pencil-and-marker art is full of color and movement, with its exaggerated figures and vibrant line. Her characters are always gesturing, caught in mid-sentence. Her first-person narration tells her tragedy and triumph in a very down-to-earth way, using the tone of the 11-year-old she was. The paired lessons—of art as a crucial element in education and of the importance of recognizing different learning styles—come through clearly, leavened by Polacco's use of color and gesture. (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399257032
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
04/12/2012
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
112,429
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

"I was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1944. Soon after my birth I lived in Williamston, Michigan and then moved onto my grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan.

"I lived on the farm with my mom and Grandparents until 1949. That is when my Babushka (my grandmother) died and we prepared to move away from Michigan. I must say that living on that little farm with them was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad. In both households I was the apple of my grandparents' eyes! I would say that these relationships with my grandparents have most definitely influenced my life and my work. You probably have noticed that in almost every book that I write there is a very young person who is interacting with an elderly person. Personally, I feel that this is the most valuable experience of my life....having the wonder of knowing both children and elderly people.

"The respect that I learned as a very young person certainly carried over into my life in later years. I have always like hearing stories from these folks. My genuine curiosity for the wonder of living a very long life prepared me to accept the declining years of my own parents.

"To get back to the farm in Union City...this place was so magical to me that I have never forgotten it! This was the place where I heard such wonderful stories told...this was the place that a real meteor fell into our font yard...that very meteorite is now our family headstone in the graveyard here in Union City.

"Did I tell you that I now live in Union City? This is after living in Oakland, California for almost 37 years. But, you see, every year I'd come back to Michigan to see my Dad and family.

"Anyway...

"In 1949 we left the farm to move, first to Coral Gables, Florida. I lived there with my Mom and my brother, Richard, for almost 3 years. Then we moved to Oakland, California. I remained there for most of my young life on into my adulthood. We lived on Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District. What I loved the most about this neighborhood is that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike.

"It is on Ocean View that I met my best friend, Stewart Grinnell Washington. We are best friends to this day! He has a younger brother, Winston and three sisters; Jackie, Terry and Robin. When I was a student in elementary school I wasn't a very good student. I had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn't! I thought I was dumb. I didn't like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn't do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero's, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact, most learning disabled children are actually GENIUSES! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

"I went on to University, majored in Fine Art, then went on to do a graduate degree and even ended up with a Ph.D. in Art History. For a time I restored ancient pieces of art for museums. I eventually became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and devoted much of my days to their education and upbringing.

"I did not start writing children's books until I was 41 years old. Mind you the "art" has always been there for me most of my life. Apparently one of the symptoms of my disability in academics is the ability of draw very, very well. So drawing, painting and sculpture has always been a part of my life even before I started illustrating my books. The books were quite a surprise, really. Mind you, I came from a family of incredible storytellers. My mother's people were from the Ukraine and Russia...my father's people were from Ireland. My extended family,(Stewart's family) were from the bayous of Louisiana...also great story tellers. When you are raised on HEARING stories.....NOT SEEING THEM, you become very good at telling stories yourself. So at the age of 41 I started putting stories that I told down on paper and did drawings to help illustrate them...I guess the rest is history.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful career of writing books for children . Who could have guessed that little girl that was having such a tough time in school would end up an illustrator and author. Children and adults alike ask me where I get my ideas...I get them from the same place that you do....MY IMAGINATION... I would guess the reason my imagination is so fertile is because I came from storytelling and, WE DID NOT OWN A T.V.!!!!!!!!! You see, when one is a writer, actor, dancer, musician; a creator of any kind, he or she does these things because they listen to that "voice" inside of them. All of us have that "voice". It is where all inspired thoughts come from....but when you have electronic screens in front, of you, speaking that voice for you... it DROWNS OUT THE VOICE! When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to listen to the voice, turn off the T.V. and

"LISTEN...LISTEN...LISTEN.

"Now that I have moved back to Union City I am intending to open my house and community and invite people to come there to take part in writing seminars, story telling festivals, literature conferences and various events that celebrate children's literature."

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.

The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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The Art of Miss Chew 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bee-a-Reader More than 1 year ago
Fans of Patricia Polacco will cheer for this latest installment of her autobiographical stories. Heartwarming and triumphant --- a tribute to caring teachers everywhere who make a difference in the lives they touch.
BookWorldBabe More than 1 year ago
I always adore Patricia Polacco's books, so when I saw this one I knew I had to have it! Like all her books, this one is beautifully told with gorgeous illustrations and a sweet story line. Filled with inspirational themes and great lessons for children, it's the perfect book to read at storytime/bedtime. In our house, we make sure to read this once a week at least!