Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hello everyone,
We are so excited to feature Holly Schindler's The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky. Just the title and the cover puts a smile on my face. In case it's your first coming across this book, here's the description.

Beasts of the Southern Wild meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.

What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.


Does it make you smile too? Get it or add it!

Here are my thoughts about this book.


When I read the description of The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky and saw the cover I knew it was a book that will make me smile and I was right. 

From the get go Auggie's character wormed herself into my heart. I saw a lot of my younger self in her and what she went through. I moved from the Philippines to the US when I was in the third grade and Auggie moved to a new school after her old school closed down--I experienced her excitement of going to a new place and then quickly feeling like a fish out of water. And being confronted with the fact that she's from the poor side of town and suddenly feeling self-conscious about things that she took pride in or was happy with before.

Auggie was looking for her "shine," something that was uniquely her that she's really good at and I loved reading about her journey finding it and eventually seeing herself the artist that she was. I thought the author captured Auggie's voice and her unique way of looking at things so well. She was just so spunky, refreshing and delightful. 

I also loved Auggie's relationship with Gus, her grandfather. The bond that they have was lovely and the way Gus encouraged Auggie--everyone should have a Gus in their life! 

I'm a sucker for novels set in the South and in a small town because I like that that homey, nostalgic, simple life feel and I was able to find that here. The author created that small town with all the eccentric characters without going over the top. Seeing Auggie, Gus and their neighbors rally together to show that you don't need new things to create something beautiful and of value was powerful. But that was just one of the things, because The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky was filled with subtle life lessons without any preachy-ness. Now that I think about it, this would be a great novel to do with an upper elementary or middle school class--imagine all the class discussions and fun projects to tie it with!

The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky just made me smile the entire time I was reading it. It was sweet, very readable and a feel-good read that made me want to start creating something after I finished reading it. I recommend The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky everyone--all will come away with something after reading it, even the adults.

*****
Auggie and Gus also sat down with us to answer a few of our questions.


Hi Auggie and Gus! Thank you for chatting with us today. Auggie and Gus, what book (or books) are you currently reading or recently read? What did you think of it?
Gus: I do a lot of reading of the paper. Every morning. Good to find out what’s going on in town—and Classifieds are a great place to find out who’s trying to unload stuff Auggie and I could use in our sculptures. Poor folks have poor ways, after all, and sometimes, the best way for us to start a new sculpture is with an ad for junk that needs to be hauled away.

Auggie: My favorite new characters are the sculptures in our yard! Every single figure we make is better than the last. I can’t wait to see what we’re making in another few weeks, a year from now, even!

Auggie, what’s the best thing about living in Serendipity Place with your Grampa Gus?
Auggie: I love so many things about Serendipity Place! Our neighbors have such great houses. The Widow Hollis has irises that are a blue as deep as the bottom of the ocean. Mrs. Shoemacker’s place has grass as soft and plush as the carpet in a movie star’s house. And Ms. Dillbeck’s front porch sags in the middle and curls up at the ends. I think it looks like it’s smiling.

Gus, you haul trash for a living. You must have come across some very interesting things that people throw away. Can you tell us about some of those? Also, what type of appliance or furniture do people throw away most frequently?
Gus: What gets me are the things folks toss from a time gone by—makes a new memory pop to mind each time. When I pick up an old Brownie camera, I think about smiling for a picture in my best suit before going to Christmas Eve service at the Hopewell Community Church—same church Auggie and I go to now. When I pick up an old console TV, I think about the old TV that used to be in my own living room, the one my wife and Auggie’s mom and I used to watch when Auggie’s mom was just a girl. Nice to take those old memories and make them into something new, with Auggie.

Auggie and Gus, what is your advice for an elementary school class that wants to do a similar project like you did in The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky?

Gus: You need an imagination like Auggie’s.

Auggie: You need a partner like Gus—someone who tells you, “Whatever you see, will be.”

*****

A big thank you to Auggie and Gus for stopping by our blog and a huge thank you to Holly for making the interview possible. Holly is the author of YA novels, A Blue So Dark, Playing Hurt (my review) and the upcoming FeralThe Junction of Sunshine & Lucky is her first middle grade novel. 

Holly has a middle grade site called Holly Schindler's Middles. Check it out at hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. You can also chat with her on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

Stop by the next blog on the tour: ReaderKidz

But before you scadaddle, watch the The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky trailer.

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