Polacco, P. (2007). The Lemonade Club. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
Genre: Children’s Picture Storybook (Memoir)
Polacco has an almost magical ability to tell powerful, yet beautiful stories. In “The Lemonade Club,” Polacco is telling a true story that involves her daughter, Traci, Traci’s best friend, Marilyn, and their fifth grade teacher, Miss Wichelman.
Traci and Marilyn were best friends and did everything together---as best friends do. They were even in the same class and they both loved their teacher, Miss Wichelman. Miss Wichelman was loved because she encouraged her students to dream and to overcome challenges by making lemonade from lemons. This advice was put to the test when Marilyn was diagnosed with cancer (leukemia). Marilyn undergoes treatments, becomes weak, obtains bruises, loses her hair, and struggles with good and not so good days. Traci and Miss Wichelman visit her frequently while she recovers from her treatments…meanwhile; the entire fifth grade class plans a surprise for Marilyn’s first day back to school. I was already teary-eyed from the beginning of the book but the surprise released the floodgates and I cried happy tears. It also happens that Miss Wichelman has breast cancer, so she bonds with Marilyn and Traci in a meaningful way. The three become the Lemonade Club and when Miss Wichelman marries five years later, Marilyn and Traci wear bright lemon yellow gowns in the ceremony in celebration of not only the wedding but also in celebration of their recoveries and Miss Wichelman following her career dream.
Polacco includes actual photographs of The Lemonade Club ladies all grown up and it is remarkable to be able to connect the book characters with the real people.
*Written June 2012