"Mrs Peterson showed us how to shine."
"In my old school ... all the kids knew that I had just learned to read ... that I used to be dumb. Everyone knew that I was always in special classes."
Sadly Trisha finds herself in the special class in her new school and even worse this class is called The Junkyard. Luckily this class has the best teacher! Her name is Mrs Peterson and she looks at her class and sees a group of wonderful individuals.
Genius is neither learned not acquired.
It is knowing without experience.
It is risking without fear of failure.
It is imagination without boundaries.
It is creativity with out constraints.
The class form tribes. I love the way this is done using scents - vanilla, almond, lemon and cinnamon. The talents of each child emerges. Jody loves poetry, Gibbie loved to building things, Thom made everyone laugh and Trisha can draw. Mrs Peterson tells them the junkyard is a place "full of wondrous possibilities! What some see as bent and broken throwaways are actually amazing things waiting to be made into something new. Something unexpected. Something surprising."
The Vanilla team find an old wrecked model airplane and so their project begins - to get this plane into the air and make it fly to the moon. They raise money for a motor and prepare for the school science fair. There are obstacles of course. Some of them seem insurmountable and totally unfair but this tribe keep persevering right up to the big launch day.
If the ending does not move you to tears the final page will. Here you can read that this book was inspired by a real class of wonders and a real teacher called Mrs Peterson and yes the author Patricia was in her class.
This is a truly special and important book which I would like to share with all senior classes. We have purchased this book to support a class unit on the book Wonder and it seems to be the perfect partner. Take a look at Patricia Polacco's web site. She is the author of 115 books! You can see some books below which also feature wonderful teachers like Mrs Peterson.