Monday, June 27, 2016

[BOOK REVIEW] The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

Title:  The Art of Miss Chew

Author:  Patricia Polacco

Genre:  School / Drama / Family / Art

Year Published: 2012

Year Read:  2016

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Nothing Objectionable)

Now, I have been reading many of Patricia Polacco’s books over the years and even though I continued to be mesmerized by her childhood stories, I have always wondered how Patricia Polacco became such a prolific artist, as well as being an effective storyteller.  So, when I got around to reading one of Patricia Polacco’s newer books “The Art of Miss Chew,” I finally found out how Patricia Polacco became such a talented artist!

After Trisha spent the summer with her grandmother who was a talented artist, Trisha wanted to become an artist herself. Unfortunately, her school does not have an art class that Trisha could participate in until her Irish teacher Mr. Donovan, suggested that Trisha could join a special art class at the high school that is being taught by none other than Miss Chew!  Trisha loved having Miss Chew as her art teacher, as Miss Chew helped Trisha learn the language of art and how she could see the objects she draws in a whole new light.  Unfortunately, a tragic day happened when Mr. Donovan’s father passed away and Mr. Donovan had to attend his father’s funeral, leaving his students in the care of a substitute teacher named Mrs. Spaulding.  Mrs. Spaulding was often cruel towards Trisha as she would not give Trisha enough time to work on her tests, since Trisha was a much slower learner than the other students; and Mrs. Spaulding even threatened to have Trisha thrown out of Miss Chew’s art class since she believed that the art class was distracting Trisha from her studies.

Can Trisha and Miss Chew convince the student board that Trisha should stay in art class?

Read this book to find out!

What I always loved about Patricia Polacco’s works is that her books allow the readers to take a look at her childhood and be inspired by the various teachers that helped her throughout her school life.  I always loved the emotional touches that Patricia Polacco brings to her work as you truly feel her sorrow as she struggles through school due to her learning disability and it was great that she had teachers that really cared about her and try their hardest to help Trisha pass her classes.  As soon as I picked up this book, I knew that I was going to automatically fall in love with both Miss Chew and Mr. Donovan!  Even though Mr. Donovan’s name was not in the title of this book, I loved the fact that Trisha had another teacher who was supportive of her and the fact that he was from Ireland and loved his father dearly really made me love his character!  But let us talk about the true star of this book and that is Miss Chew herself, as she was clearly the one who inspired Trisha to fulfill her lifelong dream to become an artist!  I loved the fact that Miss Chew showed Trisha how to look at the objects she draws in a different light and I also loved the way that she continues to encourage Trisha to follow her dreams of becoming an artist no matter how impossible the odds may be.  I really loved the fact that both Mr. Donovan and Miss Chew were teachers that came from foreign countries (Mr. Donovan came from Ireland and Miss Chew came from China) as it brought a whole new perspective of the teaching experience for young children.  Patricia Polacco’s artwork is magnificent as the characters look so realistic and gorgeous and I loved the fact that we have a book in Patricia Polacco’s works that detailed her inspiration in becoming an artist!

Overall, “The Art of Miss Chew” is a truly beautiful and touching book about the power of art and the importance of supporting students who are struggling in school.  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the length of the book might be a bit difficult for some smaller children.


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