Review: Junkyard Wonders

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A junkyard is a place that stores scrap metal or resalable car parts or used items. It’s a place where things are stores that no on else wants or needs. Imagine rummaging through an entire junkyard and finding the perfect picture frame, gold coin that accidentally got thrown out or a pair of sunglasses that completes your outfit.

But, what about a junkyard of a different type that is made up of children, students who have been cast aside by their school, friends and others and placed in a room given their own special teacher because they are different.

Trisha has just moved from California to Michigan to attend a different school while living with her father and grandmother. Trisha is about to get a lesson in friendship, love, loyalty and most of all understanding. Going to a new school can be an eye opener to say the least for a young child who is sensitive and not used to being ridiculed by others. So, when Trisha enters Room 206 and meets the students who would soon be not only her classmates but also lifelong friends, she experiences more than just feeling different and unique. Entering the room she realized that the other students were definitely quite different.

One boy named Jody was extremely tall and was growing by leaps and bounds due to a physical problem causing it. Another did not speak, Trisha just learned to read being dyslexic. Each student considered a cast off or castaway yet each having an IQ that far surpassed the average or above average child not bordering but landing smack dab on genius. What would make these students not give up on themselves, feel sorry for themselves and be proud of who they are? The answer: Mrs. Peterson their one of a kind teacher, their inspiration and instructor that never let these children, dubbed: Junkyard Kids,” feel anything less than who they are: Geniuses!

As Mrs. Peterson introduces the class to the other members, explains how their group work will be done, Trisha learns the true meaning of loyalty, friendship and finds that these kids are no different than anyone else, except in one respect: they each have a physical problem whether dyslexia, Tourette’s, glandular or just not able to speak or express themselves. Author Patricia Polacco takes the reader, adult or child inside what a real classroom should look like and be with an educator that sets the bar for the rest and makes those of us who are part or were part of the profession more than just proud.

As you get the know the special students in this class you will meet one young man named Jody who finds himself growing at leaps and bounds due to a disease that causes him to grow fast. Jody, is tall, big and everyone’s safety net or bodyguard when the other kids pick on them. Thom is Trisha’s first friend and best pal. He is part of her group, or tribe as the teacher refers to them, and a lifelong friend as you will find out.  From visiting her friend’s houses to see thinks through a telescope, to playing in the schoolyard and hearing the words of those who did not understand them, to one teacher who makes it all really clear, Junkyard Wonders teaches both adults and children that anything is possible.

When Mrs. Peterson realizes that her students need to understand that there are limitless and wondrous opportunities out there for them to learn and explore, she takes them on fieldtrip to a junkyard and here is where everything begins and things change. Instructing each tribe, or group of students to find things in the junkyard and use them to create something new that no one has ever seen before out of what they find at the junkyard.

So, they set off and what they find and create will stupefy the reader, enlighten the skeptic and endear you to the amazing and wonderful students in Room 206. But, like all stories or even mysteries something happens that changes everything and soon one student’s illness causes pain to so many others and the outcome of the project he started along with Trisha and her group becomes even more important as they try and overcome the obstacles to complete it. Finding a red plane and remodeling it was their goal. Hoping to send it into space and in the air their hope.

What happens and whether they complete it and what they have to do in order to get the money for the right parts and motor you won’t believe. How are they going to convince their teacher, their principal and their parents to join in and help them? What happens when they are told they cannot launch their project? One science fair that would change everything for these kids and one young man’s dream they wanted to come true.

Will it wind up in space or will the launch never take off? Find out when you read about these remarkable students that became lifelong friends with our outstanding author in a book that every teacher, student and parent should have in their school and family library, Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. If you want to find out whether they made to outer space: Read the last page. One inspiring teacher named Mrs. Peterson who would never give up on her students, one author who is following in her very path or footsteps.

 Fran Lewis: Reviewer
This book gets Five More Red Airplanes to Launch!
Let’s dedicate the review to Jody!

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