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 ALSC/ALA Notable Children’s Book


Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2015

Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction 2016

2016 Ohioana Book Award Winner

New York Public Library Top 100

Junior Library Guild

Capitol Choice (D.C.) Noteworthy Book

State Book Award nominee in Vermont, Missouri (MASL), Indiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Oklahoma, West Virginia 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


“Warning: this book will stick with you. I loved every minute of this story…”                                                                                                         thestylinglibrarian.com


Art by Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center students

Idea from Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center students




Four Quick Classroom Ideas


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


2. Design a classroom “bottle tree” with twigs, plastic bottles, and other items.


3. Paint your own “cardboard quotes” and display.


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 Middle School, MA

Idea from Bigelow Middle School, MA












Idea from Berner Middle School, NY

Idea from Berner Middle School, NY