Junkyard Wonders

by Patricia Polacco

Other authorsPatricia Polacco (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2010

Call number



Philomel Books (2010), Edition: Illustrated, 48 pages


Inspired by a teacher who believes each of them is a genius, a class of special-needs students invents something that could convince the whole school they are justifiably proud to be "Junkyard Wonders."

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
Of all the books read by this author thus far, this is my favorite. Polacco writes from real-life experiences, praising those who had a positive impact. Her beautiful illustrations and lovely writing are a wonderful combination.

At an early age, she struggled to read and to process things that
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seemed to come easy to her classmates. Spending a year with her father in Michigan, she hoped that school would be different. Leaving behind those who knew her difficulties, she longed for a new beginning.

When entering a new school, she soon learned that she was placed in a class with those who had various physical and developmental issues. Bullied by some non "junkyard wonders", it was a brilliant, caring, sensitive teacher who turned the "junkyard wonders" into a cohesive group who grew to know they had many strengths. Teaching that their difficulties were not insurmountable, the children grew to trust their teacher and to rely on each other.

When one of their classmates died, the group completed their original shared project and used this as an impetus to soar with their dreams.

Five BIG stars for this marvelous story.
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LibraryThing member KristenCollins
Trisha has convinced her parents that she should stay the school year with her father and grandmother in Michigan. She has just recently learned to read after being diagnosed with dyslexia. The children at her old school in California all knew this. She was dying to be in a regular class. After
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starting her new school she realizes she is once again in a special needs class and all the children in the school call her class the "junkyard". Trisha is very disappointed, after all thats why she wanted to move in the first place. Once she meets her teacher, Mrs. Peterson, things start to change. Mrs. Peterson is an amazing teacher who strives to make sure all of the "junkyard wonders" realize how wonderful they really are. Trisha makes new friends and realizes these kids aren't dumb or weird, they are intelligent and unique. Even genius. Throughout the year they face many obstacles and get threw these tough times together and show the "regular" kids what the "junkyard wonders" are really about.

I loved this book. It brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart. I wish there were more teachers in this world like Mrs. Peterson.

In a classroom I give this book to a child with special needs. This is a perfect example of it's not where you came from but where you are going. The children in Mrs. Peterson's class went on to be productive and succesful adult despite their special needs. Also, this book would be great to read aloud to the class to help deal with the bullying and understanding about children with special needs.
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LibraryThing member ktb004
Inspired by a teacher who believes each of them is a genius, a class of special needs stuents invents someting that could convience the whole school they are justifiably proud to be "junkyard wonders".
LibraryThing member Jpeshke
This book deals with special needs students and their wonderful teachers. The students become friends and learn to support each other and find self-confidence along the way. This is beautifully touching story and should be shared.
LibraryThing member michelleraphael
An inspiring book about a girl who moves to a new school, with the hopes of fitting in. She learns that everyone is smart in their own way.
LibraryThing member deed9699
This book was about being different and trying to belong. It was about working hard for what you want. It teaches children that you should treat children nice even if they are different than you. It also tells children to never give up.
LibraryThing member ckarmstr1
Trisha asks her mom if she can live with her dad and grandma for the school year. She does this because she wants to start over. All the kids at her old school new her as the "special" girl, and she hopes that a fresh start at a new school will changer everyone's opinion of her. When the term
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begins, Trisha is sent to the "junkyard" classroom--a room for children who are different. She gets a label similar to the one at her old school, which she is not happy about. Certain kids at the school don't let the junkyard kids sit at their lunch tables. This book shows how cruel and not accepting kids can be. Luckily, Trisha becomes friends with members of her tribe (assignment group). They do everything together. Their teacher Mrs. Peterson helps them see their true potential. This book is beautiful. When/if I teach special education classes, I will read this book at the start of every semester.
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LibraryThing member abruser
A girl gets placed in a special needs class and had difficulty being different at school. She eventually learns that the "junkyard class" is a lot of fun. The students invent an airplane that amazes the whole school. This would be a good story to share with a special needs class or a standard class.
LibraryThing member MalissaLojszczyk
Trisha wants to spend the school year with her father so she can attend a new school where no one knows she's dyslexic. On the first day of school, she finds out she is placed in the special education class known as the Junkyard. Inspired by their wonderful teacher, Trisha and the other kids in her
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class form lifelong friendships and learn about the possibilities hidden in them all.
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LibraryThing member atlomas
I really loved this book about a girl who has dyslexia and decides she wants to start over at a new school. Trisha's new friends and new teacher stay in her heart forever. This book would be a great book to start a special needs school year with.
LibraryThing member mmontet
Trisha moves to a new school, and finds out that her classroom is known as the "junkyard." However, their teacher made them realize their full potential and that they were each unique. This is such an amazing book!
LibraryThing member brittneydufrene
This is a cute story. It is about a group of kids who have a very wise teacher. Based on a real-life event in Patricia Polacco’s childhood. It can help children overcome life lessons!
LibraryThing member Trina08
I love Patricia Polacco children literature. She describes so many realistic situations that happen in our society today. I think this is a great read a loud book to read with upper elementary students because it points out a lot of issues that go on in upper elementary and middle school. It is a
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very moving story that should be read by anyone.
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LibraryThing member CMJohnson
This was a great story of friendship and how teachers can inspire you to do great things in life. It also shows you how other people's junk is another ones treasure!
LibraryThing member alyssanelson
The Junkyard Wonders is a fabulous booked based on the true school experiences of Patricia Polacco. Patricia is nervous about going back to a school in the fall who know she just learned how to read late in the past year. She convinces her mother to let her go to school in Michigan and live with
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her father and grandmother. Patricia is placed in a special class mockingly called the "junkyard" and she is devastated. However, the junkyard is blessed with a fabulous teacher named Mrs. Peterson who splits the children into tribes helping them establish friendships and cope with difficult situations.
This book would work well in the classroom because all children can relate to bullying. This book also teaches students not to take things at face value, but that everything has a unique and useful quality. In this story, the students are asked to take objects from an actual junkyard and recreate them into something new with a different or better purpose. I think this would be a great activity to recreate.
I enjoyed this book immensely. For a moment, it even brought me to tears. The story of these children is very inspiring, and the artwork is gorgeous. I enjoyed how Polacco added at the end where all the children are now (success stories and all).
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LibraryThing member KylieBrigham
This is a touching, though slightly long, tale of the unlikely friendships formed among a group of misfits who bond over a class project. This book, touching on difficult issues such as bullying and the loss of a friend, is a great one to read to students who may be feeling left out or feel like
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social outcasts. This book truly celebrates the special qualities that each person possesses and is well-suited to older, more mature elementary schoolers who can sit still long enough to enjoy and understand the underlying message that this book conveys.
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LibraryThing member vwhitt
Wow! This true story by Patricia Polacco is really inspiring. This story revolves around Patricia as a young girl dealing with the struggles of her life. She is a student in Mrs. Peterson’s special class. This class was made up of children who were different. These children had differences
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ranging from a growth disease to bad eyesight. They were made fun of by other kids, which made those “Junkyard Wonders” band together. To prove the children are unique finds, Mrs. Peterson brings the class to the junkyard and challenges them to find junk that can be made into something new. The class creates wonderful creations including a model airplane that the class bought a new engine for. A tragedy strikes the “junkyard Wonders”. However, they stick together and overcome it. Those children, who are looked down on from others, created a bond most other crave.

Details: This book was written to interest children in grades K-3 and is a 3.1 reading level.
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LibraryThing member mbogits
I read this in class at the age of 22 and I still loved the story! The book does a great job of teaching acceptance, firendship and imagination. The book is about a group of kids palced into a "special" calss who call themselves the junkyard wonders. They work to build a real flying airplane and
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show everyone what they've accomplished. WIth the help of a few people, the launch their plane from the top of the school and it appears to go to the moon. The illustrations were great and the overall message was truly touching.
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LibraryThing member annabelle5585
The Junkyard Wonders is the inspiring story of a truly dedicated and fantastic teacher named Mrs. Peterson. Based on a true story, Mrs. Peterson is a teacher to a group of students she names, the Junkyard Wonders. She calls her class this because they are all special in some unique way. One has
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dyslexia, one does not speak, one grows too fast for his body, for example. The rest of the school treats them poorly, but Mrs. Peterson encourages their individual talents and cultivates strong minds.

I thought this was a brilliant story and must read for children. It highlights each students' unique individuality and emphasizes that students in specialized classes are not junk or throwaways, but beautiful minds. Students will learn that just because some of their peers may learn in a different way from them does not make them weird.

Mrs. Peterson is an inspiration to me and to all teachers. As future teachers we must be able to hone in on each of our individual talents. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially the beginning when Mrs. Peterson reads aloud the definition of genius. She states that this definition applies to each one of her students. Mrs. Peterson is the type of teacher I aspire to be and each new teacher should read this story.
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LibraryThing member CSLA2Team
Grades 2-5
Based on true events, this story celebrates the extraordinary influence a teacher can have on students. Trisha enters a new school and is assigned a class known as the junkyard. Fortunately, the teacher doesn’t allow her students to feel like misfits, divides her “Junkyard Wonders”
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into tribes, takes them on a field trip to the local junkyard and has students work on a science fair project made from objects collected at the junkyard.
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LibraryThing member lmhudson
I really enjoyed this book. This is a book that shows that despite differences and what some may call disabilities children can overcome all odds with the right motivation. All it takes is someone believing in a child and anything is possible.
LibraryThing member hhuget
Junkyard Wonders is based off true events from Patricia Polacco's childhood. Beautifully illustrated and honestly told, this story deals with issues of bullying, self acceptance and death amongst of group of children. Junkyard Wonders could be a mentor text used to talk about memoir writing.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When Trisha convinces her parents that she should spend the school-year in Michigan, with her father and grandmother, rather than with her mother in California, she is motivated by a desire to escape from the stigma of having been a late-comer to reading. But her placement in Mrs. Peterson's class
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- known as the "junkyard," because all of the students have some kind of disability or problem - would seem to indicate that she hadn't escaped "special education," and the ridicule it sometimes invites, after all. It takes an extraordinary teacher, and some wonderful classmate and friends - her "tribe" - to show Trisha that she isn't a piece of "junk" at all, but a genius full of potential. A true wonder...

In the same vein as Thank You, Mr. Falker, in which Polacco pays tribute to the (California) elementary-school teacher who first helped her to read, or Mr. Lincoln's Way, in which she tells the true tale of a wise principle who helped a disturbed young boy onto a better path, this lovely autobiographical picture-book - the author's latest - is a pean to the transformative power of a truly remarkable educator. I found the story inspiring, one of the later developments quite moving (yes, I was tearing up - again!), and the illustrations quite appealing. It's funny, but although I probably wouldn't be a fan of Polacco's art, on its own - not that there's anything wrong with it, it just isn't really my "style" - when it is combined with her stories, it just feel right! All in all, a wonderful addition of Polacco's already large body of excellent picture-books!
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LibraryThing member HaleyAnger
"The Junkyard Wonders" is about a classroom of a wide range of special needs students. The students are put into groups for projects and they become friends quickly. The special needs students are always picked on and so the teacher takes them to the junkyard. She tells them to find things to build
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from junkyard scraps. The main character's group makes an airplane and then raises money to buy an engine for it. Before they can fly it one of their group members/fellow students dies. In remembrance of him they name the plane "Junkyard Wonder" and after a series of challenges they are able to fly it

I would use this book in my classroom because it is a good representation of children with special needs. It encompassed quite a few different disorders and it would be interesting to talk with the children about specific special needs and how everyone is different.

Recommended age group: 6-9 years
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LibraryThing member dbond
Patricia Polacco’s Junkyard Wonders is the true story of herself as a young girl with a learning disability who just wants to fit in. She is thrilled to start at a new school where no one knows that she is different, only to be placed in a class full of the “special” kids. She is heart broken
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when her new friend from the summer no longer wants to be seen with her. Her class is considered the “junkyard” of the school. While the nickname may have a negative connotation, her teacher puts a spin on it telling the students that a junkyard is full of amazing things that are just waiting to be built into something new and wonderful. In the end she learns to appreciate the differences she and her peers have and builds a new self-confidence. This is a great story, both for children who can relate to a learning disability, and those that should be exposed to them. It is a heartwarming story with a triumphant end, making it a great addition to any classroom library.
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Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 2013)
Triple Crown Awards (Nominee — 2013)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — Picturebook — 2014)
William Allen White Children's Book Award (Nominee — Grades 3-5 — 2012-2013)
Great Lakes Great Books Award (Honor Book — 2012)
Buckaroo Book Award (Nominee — 2012)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Primary — 2013)




0399250786 / 9780399250781


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