The Seventh Most Important Thing

ISBN- 10:


0553497316 (paperback)

288 pages.

Publisher: Knopf

Setting: Washington D.C. 1963

Also available in audio


Curriculum connections: MakerSpace, Art and Artists, Family and Community.


Recommended for Grades 5 to 8.

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One kid. One crime. One chance to make things right.Picture1


The story of how a random act of violence brings together an angry, thirteen year old boy and a reclusive “Junk Man” in his neighborhood.   When the teenager is sentenced to work for the trash picker he injured, he begins to unravel the Junk Man’s surprising secrets.  Readers will be uplifted by this powerful tale of friendship, loss, art, and redemption.  Can art transform lives? Find out




2016 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

ILA Teachers’ Choice

Bank Street Best Book, Outstanding Merit

Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction 2016

2016 Ohioana Book Award Winner

New York Public Library Top 100

Junior Library Guild selection

Capitol Choice (D.C.) Noteworthy Book




State Book Award nominee in Vermont, Missouri (MASL), Indiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Kansas, Michigan, Connecticut, Arkansas, Arizona and Nebraska.



“Luminescent…”   Kirkus Reviews, starred


“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye.”                                                                                                                Booklist, starred


“Shelley Pearsall tells a sumptuously layered tale of transformation.”                                                                                      School Library Journal feature, starred


Art by Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center students

Idea from Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center students

Five Quick Classroom Ideas


1. Build a unique sculpture from discarded items and choose a special word or phrase for the top.


2. Write a short narrative about: a character who develops wings, the theme of FEAR NOT,  or trash turned to treasure.  Ideas from Harmon MS, OH.


3. Paint your own “cardboard quotes” and display. Idea from Berner MS, NY.


4. Give each student seven paper towel rings to display seven objects, pictures, or drawings that symbolize “important things” in their lives. Idea from Bigelow MS, MA.


5. Create Vision Boards sharing your interests, thoughts, quotes, and visions for your future.  Idea from Morton Grove Public Library, IL.