Today’s post offers a double feature. First, let me tell you about Holly Schindler’s charming new middle-school novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky. Then, check out the author’s insightful thoughts about class differences and the imagination.
Beauty comes in all shapes, shades and sizes, as Schindler (Playing Hurt, 2011, etc.) demonstrates in her debut middle-school novel The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.
Ten-year-old Auggie lives on the poor side of a town in Missouri with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler who can “take something broken and worthless and turn it into a fold of green bills in his pocket.” When the House Beautification Committee threatens the modest community with fines, Auggie and her grandpa get inspired to renovate their property at the corner of Sunshine and Lucky. Leftover cans of paint of many colors, bits of broken stained-glass from their storm-tossed church, and old car parts all play a part in the humorous transformation of their home and, ultimately, of the neighborhood. Auggie designs a growing crop of metal flowers and clever sculptures with moving parts, all welded by hardworking Gus. Will their creative sculptures win over the committee and save the neighborhood from being razed?
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky offers a gentle, inspiring story of economically disadvantaged people uniting to assert their right to define beauty on their own terms. (Reprinted with permission of New York Journal of Books)
Holly Schindler has kindly offered to discuss class differences and the imagination as they relate to her work:
When Auggie wants to renovate the exterior of her house, she doesn’t have the option of heading to the hardware store to buy gallons of paint or new plants for flower boxes. She’s got to use what’s available to her: the junk that Grampa Gus hauls.
Sometimes, though, I think that not having access to the fancy and new means you have no other option but to tap into your imagination. It’s happened throughout our own lives, in a hundred different ways. Ever been in the midst of a blackout? How’d you entertain yourself without the TV—maybe by making up your own stories? Ever been camping? How’d you enjoy music in the middle of the woods—surely by singing songs yourself.
I’ve long been going to auctions—first with my folks, and these days, with my brother, an antiques dealer. (It was how I initially got the idea for reinventing junk, actually—farm auctions are always full of needlework on burlap sacks or stools made from old Coke crates, etc.) One of the coolest things I ever saw at an auction was a little boy with a black plastic trash sack. He was at the auction with his parents, and didn’t have the distraction of any kind of screen—no iPad, iPhone, etc. He had a black bag. And every time I looked at him, his bag was doing something new—it was a cape, a magic carpet, wings. I’ve honestly never seen a little boy have more fun. He spent the entire day imagining new things to do with that bag—he even got other kids at the auction in on his adventures.
But with a tablet computer? That little boy would have sat alone, staring, mostly likely not having nearly as much fun.
Maybe, if Auggie had grown up in a fancier neighborhood, if she had always had access to new things, perfect things, she would not have developed her imagination to the point where she could create sculptures out of junk.
…And maybe that’s the key for the rest of us—maybe we become better brainstormers, better problem-solvers, better storytellers if we get away from our screens and force ourselves to rely on our own imaginations…”
Thank you, Holly, for generously sharing your thoughts on socioeconomic status and the power of the imagination to enrich life at both the personal and cultural level. And bravo for creating such an appealing novel featuring folks who might not have much money but who have considerable inner resources and generous spirits.
Upper-elementary kids, especially creative girls, should snap up The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, now available in bookstores and libraries.
You can follow the author at Twitter: @holly_schindler, Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, or you can check out her web site at hollyschindler.com