From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5 Based on true events, this inspiring story celebrates the extraordinary influence a teacher can have on her students. As Trisha enters a new school in Michigan, she hopes she won't be relegated to a special class. At her old school, she had trouble learning to read. On the first day, she is disappointed to learn that Room 206 is known as the junkyard. Fortunately, their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, doesn't allow her students to feel like misfits. She divides her Junkyard Wonders into tribes, creating a sense of unity among them. One day, the children visit a local junkyard where they discover a place full of wondrous possibilities and collect objects for a class project. Trisha and her tribe retrieve an old model plane, which they refurbish. The whole class looks forward to the science fair when they will fly the plane from the roof of the school in remembrance of a classmate who has died. The school bully tries to foil their plans, but in the end the Junkyard Wonders launch the plane and watch it soar up into the stratosphere. The touching story is accompanied by Polacco's trademark illustrations in which a motherly Mrs. Peterson presides over her busy classroom. The children's expressive faces convey their devotion to her and to each other. Pair this title with Lester L. Laminack's Saturdays and Teacakes
(Peachtree, 2004), another nod to a fondly remembered past. Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
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Looking forward to a fresh start at a new school, Trisha is crestfallen when she is assigned to a special class with children who are different. Their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, proudly calls them the junkyard and takes them to an actual junkyard, which she describes as a place of wondrous possibilities . . . amazing things waiting to be made into something new. It’s clear that she sees her class the same way as she divides them into tribes and urges their creativity. Reclaiming and rebuilding an old model plane they intend to send to the moon, Trisha’s tribe manages a triumphant launch. Illustrations, rendered in pencil and marker, portray children in saddle oxfords and poodle skirts brimming with energy and excitement, guided by a model teacher. Based on her own childhood, Polacco’s inspiring story will touch children and teachers alike. In an appended note, Polacco updates the subsequent successful lives of her former tribe members and reveals how they did make it to the moon after all. Grades 2-5. --Linda Perkins