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Monday, January 27, 2014

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky Blog Tour {Review, Interview, Giveaway}

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky Blog Tour is stopping by today with my Review, my Interview with author Holly Schindler, and a giveaway...

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky
by Holly Schindler
2/6/14
Penguin/Dial

“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.

Reviews:
"...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 infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus." – Publishers Weekly




I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

There’s nothing I love more than an excellently written middle-grade novel that both amuses and moves me, and Holly Schindler’s The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is definitely one of those books!


Fifth-grader, Auggie Jones, lives with her beloved Granda Gus, a trash hauler, in the poorer side of their small town. Auggie loves her neighborhood, but when the newly founded House Beautification Committee is formed and Auggie’s house is deemed an ugly eyesore, she starts to think maybe she and Gus are as rundown as their neighborhood. But Auggie is determined to prove the Committee wrong and with a little imagination, pluck, and hardwork, she and Gus begin to create beautiful sculptures and artwork from trash. Auggie and Gus discover a wonderful talent they never imagined they had and the whole town discovers the true meaning of beauty.


There’s so much to love about The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky: the superb storytelling, the heartfelt message, the endearing heroine. Holly Schindler has spun a truly special story that is as entertaining as it is poignant. That shimmering, captivating spark I always look for in middle-grade is definitely present within this book! Schindler’s writing style is smart, yet accessible, warm and delicious, without being too sugary and over the top. Young readers especially will love Schindler’s vivid, colorful word choices and way of describing things.


With her heroine, Auggie Jones, Schindler captures that refreshing, pitch-perfect middle-grade voice fantastically! Auggie is truly an unforgettable, genuine character and I loved everything about her: her courage, compassion, can-do attitude, unique perspective, and so much more. Grandpa Gus is a wonderful, equally lovable character and the relationship between he and Auggie is just so beautiful and sweet. By the end of this book, Auggie, Gus, and all their neighbors felt less like simple characters, and more like long lost friends to me.


Schindler’s message of love, friendship, hope, and true beauty is a heartwarming and inspiring one. Readers of all ages will feel their hearts and courage swell as they root for Auggie and her neighbors. There’s also such mesmerizing magic in the artwork from trash Auggie and Gus create.


MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Holly Schindler’s The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is a thoughtfully and beautifully written middle-grade contemporary that will uplift and move readers and leave you smiling for days.


MY RATING


  1. What three words best describe THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY?

Art.  Beauty.  Shine.

  1. Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY a try?

One girl uses garbage—yep, garbage—to stand up to a committee and unfair rules, win back her best friend, and even find her own “shine” (her hidden talent)!

  1. Grab a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY and answer the following:

Favorite chapter? The Thanksgiving chapter.  Love the warmth in this one.  And this is the chapter that brings the character into Auggie’s life that will help her big idea—the idea that saves her neighborhood, Serendipity Place—come to life at the end.

Favorite page?  The last page.  Actually, the last line on the last page.  It didn’t come easy—but every time I reread it during copyediting, it would make me smile.

Favorite character?  Auggie.  By far.  She may actually be my favorite character of all the characters I’ve ever written.

1-2 sentence teaser: “Our voices sound like a whole playground as we squeal and squirm.  Excitement leaks out that way—in shrieks, like air slipping out of a balloon—the day before you get sent to a brand-new school.”

  1. What inspired you to write THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY?  And what do you hope young readers will walk away with after reading Auggie’s story?

My path to publication was long and winding: after receiving my master’s, I dove headfirst into a full-time writing career (which was only possible because of support from my family).  About four years into it, I had this make-or-break moment.  I think, to a great extent, that was because I had this impossible-to-ignore marker each year: graduation.  I started my pursuit of publication the day after I wore my last cap and gown.  So every single time grads would parade across the local news, I’d think: There’s one more year gone…It took four years to get out of high school, to get my undergrad degree.  But four years into my publication pursuit, I hadn’t accomplished my goal.  I hadn’t even really gotten much in the way of “good” rejections—editors taking time to tell me what I could work on.

I got really upset at the four-year mark—had to ask myself, “Am I really going to keep at this?”  The first thing I wrote after deciding to put my rear in the seat and just get to work was THE JUNCTION.  That first draft was REALLY different than the final version, but I do think sometimes that THE JUNCTION was me taking a stand for my own “art,” just as Auggie does.  And I do hope that, when kids read it, they feel inspired to stand up for themselves as creative people.

  1. Auggie and her Grampa Gus create awesome art from trash…what is your favorite piece of art they create?  What kind of trash turned art treasure would you love to create?

I do like the last sculpture Auggie says she has planned on the last page of the book (a girl reaching for a star, which sums up who I think Auggie is)…But I also really love some of the last figures: a baseball player sliding into “home,” for example.  

I’m always been fascinated by any kind of recycled art or objects; I love scouring flea markets for galvanized buckets turned into lamps, purses made from burlap sacks with old keyholes for clasps, necklaces made from antique salt shakers.  There are so many incredibly creative people out there.  I love seeing how people can take an old broken object and “see” its new life.  

  1. Why do you think middle grade books are so important?  What do you love about writing and reading middle grade?

During the middle grade years, kids are really figuring out who they are—what their “thing” is.  In YA lit, we see so many characters who already have their thing: they’re skaters, or athletes, or musicians, etc.  But in middle school, kids are figuring that out for the first time.  They’re learning what their passions are—the passions that will be with them the rest of their lives.  It’s an exciting time—as a writer, it’s also exciting to be a small part of that time in a child’s life.  

  1. If you could put any book (that isn’t one of yours) in the hands of every young reader, which would you choose?  Why?

I’d give them all that ONE BOOK—the one that snags them.  The book that they can connect with on a personal level.  The book that makes them feel like the story they’re reading is actually their story.  Or it’s the book that has such a thrilling adventure, they’re under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime, heart racing, anxious to discover how it all pans out.  (Of course, I’m cheating with my answer a bit, because this would be a different book for each child.)  I just don’t believe there’s a single person out there who isn’t a reader.  It’s a matter of finding the book that hooks them.  

Being a reader ignites the imagination.  I firmly believe that imagination is the most important life tool you could have.  If you’ve got a good imagination, you can visualize possible solutions for any problem you encounter.

  1. Imagine you step into a time machine that can go to the past or future.  Where and when do you go and what do you do there?

I’d go to the past.  Jane Austen-era.  Isn’t there something so calm about a Jane Austen book?  Wouldn’t it be fun to live in one?

  1. Fill in the blanks:

I’m really awesome at: Coming up with new ideas!  I’ve got more ideas for books than I know what to do with.  It’s sticking with a current WIP that can often be tough.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that: No embarrassments!  We all try things and change our minds—it’s a part of becoming who we truly are.  It’s all good.

The last great book I read was: While I do read a ton of MG, it isn’t all I read.  My TBR pile hits just about every genre and reading level out there!  My last read was a Catherine Ryan Hyde book.  She never disappoints.  (She’s also doing a young readers’ edition of PAY IT FORWARD, which I’m especially excited about: http://www.amazon.com/Pay-It-Forward-Readers-Edition/dp/1481409417)

  1. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

Oooh!  I love this question.  I’d call it “Secret Surprise.”  It’d be a rich, homemade chocolate cake—with peppermint icing.  Star-shaped sprinkles all over the top.  It would have a prize baked inside.  And each person would have to make something out of it.  




Twitter: @holly_schindler
Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor
Author site: hollyschindler.com

Site for young readers: Holly Schindler’s Middles - hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. I’m especially excited about this site.  I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online—usually through Twitter or FB.  But I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership.  I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves!  Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.
Group Author Blogs: YA Outside the Lines (yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com) for YA authors and Smack Dab in the Middle (smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com) for MG authors.

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Check out the next stop (1/28) on this blog tour at http://www.valeriestorey.blogspot.com/

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