Family and love are common themes in the work of Patricia Polacco. She is both a writer of childrens books and an illustrator. Her books have the power to make readers laugh, worry, and in general, feel good by the time the story ends. She offers her readers a wide variety of topics to think about as they read along, and though Polacco books are typically meant for children ages 4 and up, parents and kids alike often understand what she wants to get across and are able to appreciate her lessons on love, friendship, and understanding.
In the story of My Ol’ Man, one family finds the strength to continue on even when hard times hit them. Patricia’s father is a traveling salesman, and on his travels he always manages to collect an interesting story that he later tells his family. His stories are always the best, interesting and fun. One day he comes home and tells Patricia and her brother about a magic rock. He says that they need to see it to believe it! But when her father loses his job, they wonder if the magic rock will have the power to help them through the tough times. Readers may see that even if the rock does not have the power to do anything, the simple belief the family has in it keeps their hopes alive and ensures an ending that will please everyone.
My Ol’ Man has a kind of “big fish” feel to it with Dad’s tall tale stories and the belief in a magic rock. But in the end it does not matter, because the strength of the family sees them through all their difficulties, and their love for each other spills off the pages into the laps of readers, proving once again that love can conquer all. Kids will
enjoy some of Dad’s tales, just as they will have a great time looking at Polacco’s illustrations. She uses a combination of pencils, gouache, and paints to create her fun styles, with plenty of detail and some unique accents, such as Dad’s wacky checkered coat. My Ol’ Man is one of those stories that can easily become a favorite.