THE LEMONADE CLUB
LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS' CHOICE NOMINEE 2010
Submitted by Elizabeth Borné, Student, LSU School of Library and Information Science
Baton Rouge, LA
The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books. 2007. 48 pages.
Traci and Marilyn are best friends who are enjoying fifth grade and life until one of them
is unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia. With the support of their classmates and their
beloved teacher, they fight to stay positive and overcome this life-and-death struggle.
This book is based on an inspiring true story.
Patricia Polacco is a lifelong artist who has always enjoyed painting, sculpture, and
drawing. She's the author and illustrator of many books for young people and lives on a
farm with a variety of animals.
Source of author information: http://www.patriciapolacco.com/
OTHER TITLES BY AUTHOR
? The Butterfly. Philomel Books. 2000. 1 vol. (unpaged). During the Nazi
occupation of France, Monique's mother hides a Jewish family in her basement
and tries to help them escape to freedom.
? The Graves Family Goes Camping. Philomel Books. 2005. 1 vol. (unpaged).
When the Graves family goes on their annual camping trip to Lake Bleakmire,
they make a frightening discovery in the forest.
? John Philip Duck. Philomel Books. 2004. 1 vol. (unpaged). During the
Depression, a young Memphis boy trains his pet duck to do tricks in the fountain
of a grand hotel and ends up becoming the Duck Master of the Peabody Hotel.
? Pink and Say. Philomel Books. 1994. 1 vol. (unpaged). Say Curtis describes his
meeting with Pinkus Aylee, a black soldier, during the Civil War, and their
capture by Southern troops. Based on a true story about the author's great-great-
? Thank You, Mr. Falker. Philomel Books. 1998. 1 vol. (unpaged). At first, Trisha
loves school, but her difficulty learning to read makes her feel dumb, until, in the
fifth grade, a new teacher helps her understand and overcome her problem.
Source of summaries: Library of Congress Catalog.
? Bluish: A Novel. By Virginia Hamilton. Blue Sky Press. 1999. 127 pages. Ten-
year-old Dreenie feels both intrigued and frightened when she thinks about the
girl nicknamed Bluish, whose leukemia is making her pale and causing her to use
? Lenny's Space. By Kate Banks. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2007. 151 pages.
Nine-year-old Lenny gets in trouble and has no friends because he cannot control
himself in school and his interests are not like those of his classmates, until he
starts visiting Muriel, a counselor, and meets Van, a boy his age who has
? Living with Leukemia. By Patsy Westcott. Raintree-Steck-Vaughn. 2000. 32
pages. Describes the condition of leukemia, how it affects the lives of those who
have it, and how to cope with or recover from it
? Sadako. By Eleanor Coerr; illus. by Ed Young. Putnam. 1993. 1 vol. (unpaged).
Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima
races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by
doing so a sick person will become healthy.
? Ways to Live Forever. By Sally Nicholls. Arthur E. Levine Books. 2008. 1 vol.
(unpaged). Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book
during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like
to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him.
Source of summaries: Library of Congress Catalog.
This book offers opportunities for classroom connections in several subjects, including
language arts, art, health/P.E., science, and music.
? Have students create a diamante poem about one of the book's characters and
share them with the class.
o A diamante poem worksheet:
o An example of a diamante poem about Miss Wichelman (see p. 7):
? Miss Wichelman tells her class, "If you dream it … then you can BE it!" Have
students write a paragraph about what they dream of being.
? The prolific author has an expansive website that provides an opportunity for
reading comprehension and learning about the author's work and life:
o Here's a "scavenger hunt" worksheet to fill out after exploring the author's
o Here's a chart for students to fill out with facts about Polacco and facts
o Here's an exercise for writing a letter to Patricia Polacco:
? Polacco uses pencils and markers to create her artwork. Since friendship is a
major theme in the book, have students use these materials to create a picture that
represents what friendship means to them. It could be a picture of one of their
friends or their own interpretation of the book's characters.
? Keeping children like Marilyn in mind, create get-well cards for children at a
children's hospital in the area as a class project. Brainstorm first on what colors,
images, and materials can be used to create messages of hope and cheer. Here's a
worksheet students can use to plan their cards:
? Traci and Marilyn help Miss Wichelman hang up Career Day posters, and the
teacher explains she once wanted to be a doctor. Have students design and create
their own posters that artistically express what they would like to be when they
grow up. Display and discuss the posters.
? Miss Wichelman and the students wear funny hats for Marilyn's return to class.
Here's a lesson plan for making funny hats:
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3746741. Though designed for
younger students, it can be adapted for students in grades 3-5.
? Teachers might investigate the possibility of inviting a local physician to visit the
class and discuss leukemia or other childhood cancers.
? Science class might be a good place to introduce some basic information about
cancer. Here are some simple definitions and explanations from a site called
"Kids Learn About Cancer":
o Terms: http://kidslearnaboutcancer.com/definmain.html.
o Procedures: http://kidslearnaboutcancer.com/procedmain.html.
? Miss Wichelman brings Marilyn a Mozart concerto CD to cheer her up because
Mozart is Marilyn's favorite composer. The school or public library likely has
such CDs available for check-out that can be played for the students in class.
? Short samples of this music can be heard here: http://w3.rz-
berlin.mpg.de/cmp/mozart_piano_concerti.html. (QuickTime and speakers
required.) Discuss whether Mozart's music would help to cheer students up and
which music they would like to listen to if they are sick or sad.
? This site, Classics for Kids, has more on Mozart:
http://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/showview.asp?ID=27. Includes music
clips and informative narration. (Flash and speakers required).
? This page on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for Kids site has more about Mozart:
1. What does the expression "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" mean to
you? What are times in your life when this expression has applied?
2. Would you have shaved your head if you were one of Marilyn's classmates? Why
or why not?
3. Thinking about how Marilyn's friends shaved their heads, can you think of an
example of when you went out of your way to make someone feel better? How
did you do this? What was the result? Explain your answer.
4. Has someone gone out of their way to make YOU feel better? How did they do it?
What was the result? Explain.
5. How did you feel when you read the information at the end of the book about the
"real life" versions of the characters?
? Patricia Polacco
The author's official site, featuring biographical information, information on her
books, news, and activity ideas.
? Reading Rockets: An Interview with Patricia Polacco
Transcript of an interview with Polacco in which she discusses her storytelling
grandmother, her multicultural family, an influential teacher, and her love of
? First Person: Patricia Polacco
Polacco discusses growing up with a learning disability and life on her farm.
? Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: School & Youth Programs
Provides information on how schools, teachers, and students can get involved
through various programs in the fight against leukemia and other cancers.
? Alex's Lemonade Stand: Foundation for Childhood Cancer
Official site of foundation that raises money for pediatric cancer research.
Includes extensive information, including instructions on how students can set up
their own lemonade stand to raise money for this cause.
? Children's Books
List of children's books dealing with cancer.
? Nominate an Honored Hero
Nominate a student with leukemia or lymphoma to be recognized as an Honored
? Outlook: Life Beyond Childhood Cancer: Kids with Courage
Features childhood cancer survivors, including personal stories and artwork.
? Childhood Leukemia Foundation
Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) about cancer.
? Captain Chemo
Site with cancer information for kids and related interactive games. (Flash, Java,
and other applications required to play.)