Set in the 1960s, The Seventh Most Important Thing is a story about an unusual friendship between Arthur T. Owens, a troubled 13 year old, and the eccentric “Junk Man.” Arthur is angry over the death of his father, leading him to make a bad choice. His punishment is 120 hours of community service with the Junk Man, who gives him a collection list of the Seven Most important Things, but for what purpose? Each item helps Arthur deal with events and emotions in his own life. He soon learns that the items are also part of something meaningful and grand for the “Junk Man.”— From Holiday Picks 2015
This “luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews) story of anger and art, loss and redemption will appeal to fans of Lisa Graff’s Lost in the Sun and Vince Vawter’s Paperboy.
NOMINATED FOR 16 STATE AWARDS!
AN ALA NOTABLE BOOK
AN ILA TEACHERS CHOICE
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge—he is ready to send Arthur to juvie forever. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service . . . working for him.
Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it—is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine. . . .
Inspired by the work of folk artist James Hampton, Shelley Pearsall has crafted an affecting and redemptive novel about discovering what shines within us all, even when life seems full of darkness.
“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye.” —Booklist, starred review
“There are so many things to love about this book. Remarkable.” —The Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
A former teacher and museum historian, SHELLEY PEARSALL is now a full-time author. The idea for this novel began many years ago when she first saw outsider artist James Hampton’s amazing work at the Smithsonian. She was disappointed that so little is known about Hampton and was intrigued that his work was brought to light by anonymous sources. It was the perfect foundation for this redemptive, inspiring historical novel. Her first novel, Trouble Don’t Last, won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. To learn more about the author and her work, visit ShelleyPearsall.com.
A NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 100 TITLES FOR READING AND SHARING
A BANK STREET BEST BOOK
A KIDS INDIE NEXT PICK
A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION
“Written in a homespun style that reflects the simple components of the artwork, the story guides readers along with Arthur to an understanding of the most important things in life. Luminescent, just like the artwork it celebrates.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Pearsall has struck just the right tone by imbuing her well-rounded, interesting characters with authentic voices and pacing the action perfectly. Excellent.” —School Library Journal, starred review
"A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye." —Booklist,starred review
"There are so many things to love about this book. Remarkable." —Christian Science Monitor
"...interweaves the power and purpose of art with an exploration of a boy’s grief and redemption." —The Bulletin
"Pearsall shows us that hope isn’t somewhere “out there”—it’s quite literally in our own two hands." —Jen Bryant, author of A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin