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Graphic Spiral


Available in paperback, ebook, and audio


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


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 man 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. 

ALA NOTABLE Children's Book 

Curriculum connections

 MakerSpace, Art and Artists, Family and Community, Coping/Grief

Recommended for Grades 5 to 8.


0553497316 (paperback)

288 pages.  Publisher: Knopf

Setting: Washington D.C. 1963

School Library Journay

“Shelley Pearsall tells a sumptuously layered tale of transformation."
Starred review

Kirkus Reviews

Starred review


“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye."
Starred review


2022 October Book Club selection

Bee's Bookshelf, Scripps National Spelling Bee

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:  Vermont, Missouri (MASL), Indiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Kansas, Michigan, Connecticut, Arkansas, Arizona and Nebraska.

Hampton's Throne close-up
Close-up View, Hampton's Throne
Smithsonian Museum of American Art
Abstract Paint

Seven Classroom Ideas


1. Build a unique "throne" or other sculptures from discarded items.

2. Create 7-Minute Mini-Sculptures: Give teams of students a sandwich bag with 7 items inspired by the list in the book (eg: Christmas lights, foil, cardboard, bottle cap, coffee filter, etc.), plus scissors, tape, markers. Set a 7-minute time limit for creating a mini-sculpture. Display.


3. Write a short narrative using one of these story starters: a character who develops wings, the theme of FEAR NOT,  or trash turned to treasure.  Ideas from Harmon MS, OH.


4. Paint  “cardboard quotes” and display. Idea from Berner MS, NY.


5. 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.


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

7. Try out some of the wonderful ideas on this site for encouraging friendship and empathy among middle school students.

Want to know more about the real Hampton's Throne? Watch a video talk by Smithsonian curator Helen Ingalls

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