cover image My Ol' Man

My Ol' Man

Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22822-3

Polacco (Pink and Say; Chicken Sunday) again spins a family anecdote into a picture book, this time focusing on the adventures of her traveling-salesman father. Every day brings a surprise during the summers young Patricia spends with her dad, who collects stories ``like kids collect baseball cards, or fine ladies collect special teacups.'' But one afternoon Da comes home with a tale of a magical rock that Patricia and her brother must see to believe. Eventually, it is belief in the rock's magic that sees the family through some hard times. While an excess of sentimentality occasionally saturates the tale, Polacco's easy-listening storytelling style so effectively evokes time, place and personality that her characters come to seem like old friends. Her signature art combines pencil, bold gouache and watercolor into vibrant, almost kinetic portraits. Period photos of Polacco and her relatives on the endpapers enhance this book's homey charm. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)