Polacco was born on July 11, 1944, in Lansing, Michigan to William and Mary Ellen. When her parents divorced, Polacco was three years old, and she went with her mother and brother to live on a farm in Union City, Michigan with her maternal grandparents. Rich in culture, Polacco's grandparents on both sides of the family greatly influenced her through their lives and their stories. Having to move again after her grandmother died, Polacco lived in Florida before settling in California. She spent the school year with her mother and the summers with her father.
Polacco had much trouble in school, feeling she was dumb. However, finally, during junior high, a teacher recognized Polacco's symptoms as dyslexia and sough help for her. Having endured taunting and teasing because she couldn't read, Polacco had always impressed people instead with her ability to draw. This creativity and her imagination helped her deal with her learning disabilities and the social ramifications. Once Polacco learned how to read and work around the dyslexia, she caught up with her fellow students and excelled in school.
When offered a scholarship for college, she declined it and got married instead. She took some college courses then quit and began working. It wasn't until after her two children were born and she got divorced that Polacco began undergraduate studies in California. Next she attended Monash University in Australia where she earned a M.F.A. in painting. From the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology she received her Master's Degree and her Ph.D. in art history before going to work painting and restoring Russian and Greek icons for museums. Over the years she had created books with pictures for friends and family, and then at age 41, Polacco took friendly advice and joined a writing group.
Excited about writing and illustrating, Polacco looked for a publisher for her stories. Meteor! was the first book Polacco sold and since then she has written and illustrated over thirty picture books, including Welcome Comfort and The Keeping Quilt. Polacco's works preserve her memories of stories told to her by her grandparents. They reflect tolerance and compassion between races, religions, and families. This award-winning author/illustrator is a conference speaker, guest at schools and libraries, the art director at Galleys magazine, and founder of the company Babushka, Inc. Today Polacco makes her home at Union City on the farm of her grandparents. Renaming it Meteor Ridge Farm, Polacco opens her home for writing seminars, festivals, and conferences about children's literature.
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