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Junkyard Wonders Hardcover – July 8, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399250786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399250781
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a lovely book, in the author's authentic style, that tells us in plain language that it is "not what we are given, but what we do with it" that is the key to life. Her story unfolds at an easy pace with poignancy all along the way. This is a book that many children and adults can relate to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the book the minute I received it in the mail. Just like Patricia Polacco's other books, it was well written and the story was very good. I have a collection of her books in school. Since I'm a teacher, many of her stories are great for teaching lessons about discrimination and different types of family structures and cultures. I definitely recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book describes multiple students with disabilities that are under the 13 IDEA categories. Polacco wrote this story about her own experience as a student with a learning disability, dyslexia. The story begins when Trisha (Patricia Polacco) wants to live with her Dad and Gramma so that she can go to a new school. At her old school all of the kids knew she had just learned to read and that she was always in special classes. On her first day at her new school she finds out that she is once again in a special class, one that they call "The Junkyard." Class members included a student with Tourette's syndrome, a boy, Jody, with a disease that made him grow too fast, a boy with a visual impairment, and a girl who had never spoken. The class split into tribes and Trisha's tribe became best friends. After the students pridefully made badges that said "The Junkyard Wonders" they got bullied on the playground. Mrs. Peterson, their teacher, responded by taking them to the junkyard to find items they could make into something wonderful. Trisha's tribe found an old model airplane and for months they worked to get it running. After the death of Jody, the class was even more motivated to make their airplane fly, and they did, right to the moon, they were sure!
This book showed an inappropriate level of inclusion in society. Many, if not all, of the students described in this book would be placed in general education classes today. A classroom would also never be called "The Junkyard" today. This book shows students being excluded from society by both peers and adults and being openly made fun of. Even though this book shows an inappropriate level of inclusion by today's standards I would still use it in my classroom for exactly that reason.
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Format: Hardcover
I love Patricia Polacco's books. The illustrations are always beautiful and the stories inspiring and touching. This book is no exception.

The Junkyard Wonders is a wonderful and inspiring book based on a real-life event in author Patricia Polacco's childhood.

Young Trisha moved from her old town so she could attend a new school and not be in the special class anymore. She is disappointed to find out that her new class is a special class, known as "The Junkyard." Things begin to look up when Trisha meets her teacher, the wonderful Mrs. Peterson and her classmates who are a in fact, a brilliant group of students with their own unique talents. Trisha learns the true meaning of genius. Some might consider Trisha's class to be a group of misfits, but truly they are a group of wonders. This is a wonderful tribute to teachers. It's an inspiring read that just might put readers onto their own path to finding their inner genius.

Recommended for 3rd grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book. I used it in school with several ages of students. All of the students seemed to enjoy the book and got the message that Patricia Polacco was sending - or at least what I thought was her message- that you can achieve what you want to as long as you keep on trying. I love her illustrations and she always has such a good story. Junkyard Wonders would be a great book to give as a gift to an under achieving child, I think. She never fails to teach such good lessons and has such good stories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia Polacco is a favorite of mine and she doesn't disappoint with this powerful retelling of her young years. We cannot escape the influence we will have on others but we can decide if our actions will lift or repell. This book inspires me to be better, to remember the importance of all people and to value our differences. One person really can make a difference in someone's life. I love the epilogue!!
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Format: Hardcover
Ms Polacco does a wonderful job at taking her own experiences as a child and writing about them! In this story she takes her own 'special needs' and turns it into a very heart touching story for a child that might be a 'little' different than the other children at school. Those that have to attend special education classes and-or get teased because they stutter or anything that makes them a bit different.

As a little girl Patricia stayed the school year with her Dad and Grandma instead of going back home to be with her mom. She did this so everyone in her 'new' school wouldn't know she had trouble reading and had to be in special education classes. She had hoped her new school would be different. But it wasn't and at first she was upset but the teacher of the "Junkyard" class was very nice and she indeed had a knack for teaching the children to look beyond what people called them. Beyond what their disappointments tell their mind. After all in a junkyard are things that people have thrown away as broken or no longer wanted anymore without a thought to what they 'could' make them into.

This story touches your heart and Ms Polacco probably wrote it as a dedication book to her classmates and that one special teacher that helped them all... I think she wrote it for all the children whom could read this to make them know that they are special but not in the teasing way their classmates say...but in another. It's all about believing in yourself and making your life better than you ever dreamed it could be.

At the end of the book she does a 'summary' of where each classmate is 'now as adults' so is nice to read what they all accomplished in their lives...
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