Junkyard Wonders

Junkyard Wonders

This book is about a girl has a special class where she lives in Michigan. Her teacher Mrs.Peterson gives them liquid to rub on their wrist. She has vanilla. And other people have it. She is friends with the people. Their names are Thom, Gibbie, Jody and Ravanne. Ravanne did not speak. One day Mrs. Peterson was late to school. They all said, “She is never late to school.” When she got there she was red all around her eyes. Read this book to figure out why she looks like that like a red heart. I recommend this book to be read by 1st-5th grade. I would give this book 5 stars.

Recommended by: Bentley D., 3rd grader, Kentucky USA


Imagination, self-confidence, possibilities are three "subjects" every child should major in and if you are lucky enough to be taught by Mrs. Peterson, that's just what you'll get. Sound wonderful? Here's the story.

Patricia arrives in Michigan far away from the school where she is always assigned to a "special" class and ready to begin a whole new chapter in her life. Yet, once again, she finds herself assigned to a class where everyone is really, really different and in this school, these kids and this class are known as The Junkyard. Day one her teacher, Mrs. Peterson, launches them by sharing a definition of the word genius. Don't miss this.

Day two she puts the kids into tribes by dabbing them with liquid from a bottle and sorting them by their smells, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon and so on. Patricia's tribe includes Thom who doesn't see well and loves ballet, Gibbie who has Tourette's, Stuart with diabetes, Ravanne who does not speak and Jody who has a disease that "makes him grow too fast." He's a bodyguard for Thom.

Mrs. Peterson, unhampered in her teaching by any government regulation, walks the kids to a junkyard one day and shows them the possibilities and the wonder of the pieces of "junk" that are collected there. She unleashes the creativity, the teamwork, the genius of the tribes by having them collect pieces of junk and then challenges them to create something that has never existed before from that junk.

You should see what they unveil. As a group, they join forces to buy a motor for The Junkyard Wonder, a model airplane that Gibbie says is destined for the moon. Obstacles erupt but with Mrs. Peterson around not much is going to stand in their way. One child is lost along the way but the others are truly found. There is plenty of bullying and labeling going on in the schoolyard. This is a great read aloud to teach acceptance and to teach children to see beyond the exterior into the "spirit" or the "soul" of the child in front of them.

In her note at the end of the book Patricia Polacco shares the life path of the Junkyard Wonders, Gibbie, Ravanne, Thom and herself. A few years back, Patricia and Gibbie met in Houston and talked about their memories. Then, Gibbie asked, "Remember that photo that my dad took of all of us that day on the roof, after we launched the Wonder?" I am not going to tell you where that photo went but I will share that it was out of this world. Mrs. Peterson had taught them the most wonderful lesson of all: to believe in themselves and she stayed with them for the rest of their lives. 48 pages Ages 6-11

Recommended by:  Barb

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