THE JUNCTION of SUNSHINE and LUCKY
by Holly Schindler
Pub. Date: February 6, 2014
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.
August “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.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project 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. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
“…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Axioms like ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ come gracefully to life in Schindler’s tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…
Auggie’s enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infections, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus.” – Publishers Weekly
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky will leave you smiling and will have you seeing art through completely different lenses.
This novel will make students observe their environment and think about what they see around them. What is beauty? What is art? These are just some of the important themes. Family, friendship, forgiveness are three other concepts that fuel this novel, along with how we view others and judge them. People may live in poverty, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have pride.
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky would be a perfect novel for MG teachers to read out loud with or to their students, and then give them the opportunity to create their own art garden with repurposed items. Can’t you see it? A place set aside outside a school for beautiful works that children made from discarded junk? I definitely can. I also could see teachers bringing in artists who would be willing to help spearhead the project.
Here are a few things that loved about this MG debut novel by the talented Holly Schindler:
1. Auggie’s relationship with her grandfather Gus. There is a lot of love and respect to their relationship and it was so much fun to see them collaborate on their art.
2. The relationship between neighbors, helping one another, supporting each other, and standing up for their community.
3. Chuck, the pastor. He played an important role in Auggie’s life, filling in a little of the gap that’s been missing because she has no parents.
4. An appreciation for used items and junkyards.
5. One man’s junk is another one’s art. Do we have a right to tell others they’re wrong to see it that way?
6. Who is a true friend? This novel explores this issue.
7. Even if a person is no longer present, her influence can still guide you.
8. Non-traditional families.
Definitely a winner for second graders and above. I hope teachers will utilize this novel as well.
Author site: hollyschindler.com
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY & Repurposed Items (written by Holly Schindler)
In THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, Auggie and Gus repurpose old items from Gus’s trash hauls; they turn toasters or junked cars into metal flowers and wind chimes and even figures they refer to as their “company.”
I’ve been going to auctions since I was a little girl—first, I went with my folks. These days, I go with my brother (an antiques dealer). Some of my favorite finds (especially at rural, farm auctions) are the self-made primitives, one-of-a-kind items. I’ve discovered all sorts of fun things—needlework on old burlap sacks, stools made from worn wooden Coke crates, quilts made from scraps of clothing.
I also do my fair share of repurposing old items myself. Some of my favorite repurposed items include pieces of jewelry made from broken findings. (The pendant of this one’s a pin with a busted clasp. And the beads all came from broken necklaces…You can always come across jars of busted jewelry at flea markets or auctions. They’re tough to pass up!)
You know, though, the entire manuscript of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY is kind of a repurposed item. When I first drafted THE JUNCTION, it was a picture book. But the first editors who saw it thought the concept of folk art was far too advanced for picture book readers.
So I did the same thing Auggie and Gus did in the book—I took the best, prettiest parts of the draft and I reinvented it as an MG novel. It wasn’t easy taking a 1,000-word story and reimagining it as a 45,000-word book. But neither is reinventing a copper pipe as a dancer! It takes serious sweat to make your artistic vision a reality—using old supplies doesn’t make the process any easier, either. In fact, you could say it’s tougher, because you don’t exactly have a blank page. You’ve got to use metal that’s already been bent, wood that’s already been cut and painted. You’ve got to alter your design to fit the materials.
I really think that whether it’s a necklace, a sculpture, or a book, repurposing materials gives the newer item more depth. It already has its own history—its own backstory, in a sense! (And we all know that a character with a rich backstory is a more three-dimensional character…)
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