Cover image for The Graves family
The Graves family
Polacco, Patricia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Philomel Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
When the spooky Graves family moves to town and tries to fit in with the "normal" residents of Union City, everyone is in for a few surprises.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.3 1.0 74460.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.7 3 Quiz: 34100 Guided reading level: P.
Added Author:
Format :


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Clearfield Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Collins Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
East Aurora Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Eden Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Eggertsville-Snyder Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Grand Island Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Kenmore Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
North Park Branch Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Orchard Park Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Anna M. Reinstein Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
Williamsville Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Audubon Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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The Graves family has just moved to Union City, and they definitely don't fit in. With giant spiders in the living room, a voracious Venus flytrap named Phoebe in the kitchen, and a secret laboratory in the basement, the neighbors are afraid to visit! Except for Seth and Sara Miller, the kids next door, who decide to help them make friends. Maybe if Mr. Graves gives all the bald men in town his amazing hair-growing tonic, which he developed from the follicles of house cats? It seems like a great idea-until the tonic-dosed town council starts chasing birds and running up trees! And then Phoebe nearly devours the Ladies' Auxiliary Garden Club-will the Graves family ever find a way to fit in?

This picture book is one of Polacco's funniest ever, with wild, colorful illustrations filled with creepy details that kids will love. And it has a beautiful message as well: differences should be celebrated, not feared!

Author Notes

Patricia Polacco was born in Lansing, Michigan on July 11, 1944. She attended Oakland Tech High School in Oakland, California before heading off to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, then Laney Community College in Oakland. She then set off for Monash University, Mulgrave, Australia and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia where she received a Ph.D in Art History, Emphasis on Iconography.

After college, she restored ancient pieces of art for museums. She didn't start writing children's books until she was 41 years old. She began writing down the stories that were in her head, and was then encouraged to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. There she learned how to put together a dummy and get a story into the form of a children's picture book. Her mother paid for a trip to New York, where the two visited 16 publishers in one week. She submitted everything she had to more than one house. By the time she returned home the following week, she had sold just about everything.

Polacco has won the 1988 Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Keeping Quilt, and the 1989 International Reading Association Award for Rechenka's Eggs. She was inducted into the Author's Hall of Fame by the Santa Clara Reading Council in 1990, and received the Commonwealth Club of California's Recognition of Excellence that same year for Babushka's Doll, and again in 1992 for Chicken Sunday. She also won the Golden Kite Award for Illustration from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for Chicken Sunday in 1992, as well as the Boston Area Educators for Social Responsibility Children's Literature and Social Responsibility Award. In 1993, she won the Jane Adams Peace Assoc. and Women's Intl. League for Peace and Freedom Honor award for Mrs. Katz and Tush for its effective contribution to peace and social justice. She has won Parent's Choice Honors for Some Birthday in 1991, the video Dream Keeper in 1997 and Thank You Mr. Falker in 1998. In 1996, she won the Jo Osborne Award for Humor in Children's Literature. Her titles The Art of Miss. Chew and The Blessing Cup made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. After the Graves family move into the house on the hill, they paint it blood red, encourage spiders and bats to share their living quarters, and cultivate enormous Venus flytraps. They try to fit in with the neighbors, but Mrs. Graves' flytrap, Phoebe, kills the plants at the Ladies Garden Club Tea, and Dr. Graves' hair tonic makes its recipients scratch with fleas. Then a Hollywood decorator comes to town to select the best-decorated house of the year, and deems the Graveses' mansion best: "I've never seen such terrifying decor . . . ever!" Polacco uses a light touch--playing with character names and understating her humor--even as she makes the point that the world is big enough for all kinds of people. As always, her colorful artwork is delightful, filled with the denizens of small-town America who are in perfect contrast to the overpowering but well-meaning Graveses. Pair this with Jeffrey Swope's The Araboolies of Liberty Street (1989) for a another look at unusual neighbors. --Kay Weisman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Polacco mines the theme of children nourished by unexpected friendship, tosses in a little light horror and comes up with over-the-top hilarity," according to PW. Ages 6-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-When Doug and Shalleaux Graves and their children move to Union City and paint their house blood red, the villagers stay away. Then Seth and Sara, two young neighbors, visit and become friendly with young Hieronymus, and they explore the spooky house. Their mother invites Mrs. Graves to a garden club tea, where her baby Venus flytrap eats the lemon squares, the tea set, and the ladies' hats. After this fiasco, the Graves family's social standing declines further. Then Christopher Joel, a home-decorating guru, comes to town to judge the neighborhood House Show. After spotting the Graves's residence, he declares it the most perfect haunted house, and offers the family a magazine cover story. From that day on, the villagers declare that the Graves and their house "fit in." Polacco's fans may be disappointed in this story. It is lighter and less emotionally resonant than many of her other works, but it has fun and farcical moments, creative puns, and over-the-top descriptions. Unfortunately, the text goes on too long, causing some of the amusing episodes to drag. Polacco's illustrations, in her standard technique of pen-and-ink with watercolor washes, have a comic, cartoon look, also something of a departure from her usual style. While this title demonstrates Polacco's storytelling range, it is not a central title in her canon.-Rachel G. Payne, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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