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Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure
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Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure

3.0 3
by Mike Wolfe, Lily Sprengelmeyer, Mike Right (Illustrator)

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The star of the hit television show American Pickers shares his love of treasure-hunting with kids.

Mike Wolfe's love for "picking" started with old bikes, cigar boxes, and other collectibles people may have called "junk." A self-taught picker, the TV star now shares his passion for picking antiques with his enthusiastic kid audience, and offers tips on


The star of the hit television show American Pickers shares his love of treasure-hunting with kids.

Mike Wolfe's love for "picking" started with old bikes, cigar boxes, and other collectibles people may have called "junk." A self-taught picker, the TV star now shares his passion for picking antiques with his enthusiastic kid audience, and offers tips on collecting, sorting through flea market offerings, asking relatives about family heirlooms, and much, much more. In the process, kids will pick up history, research skills, and new hobbies galore (and maybe even help clean the attic).

Kids love treasure-hunting. Kid Pickers is a fun and practical resource from one of the most popular pros around.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fans of the History Channel's American Pickers will be pleasantly surprised by Wolfe's foray into writing for young enthusiasts . . . A nice addition to any collection, especially for history (or television) buffs.” —School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Taking a leap from the small screen to the printed page, History Channel's American Pickers host, Mike Wolfe, adapts his treasure hunting secrets and obsessions for a young audience of up-and-coming pickers. Covering such topics as the thrill of the hunt, where to begin, and how to develop your own picking style, kids with a beginning interest in picking will have plenty to work with. Wolfe also ties in green trends like repurposing and sustainability, uncovering your own family history, making a profit, and using various resources to discover an item's story, widening the appeal to those not necessarily looking to dig through endless flea markets and dumps. The orange, black, and white palette give it an appropriately vintage feel and the lively layouts sprinkled with photos, real kid-picker profiles, and picking pointers adds to the book's accessibility. This is a surprisingly versatile resource that would be a fine addition to any library. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Fans of the History Channel's American Pickers will be pleasantly surprised by Wolfe's foray into writing for young enthusiasts. The author adopts an accessible, enthusiastic tone as he describes what "treasure hunters" do, how they do it, and the best places for childen to start collecting. For added veracity, each chapter features a young person and his or her area of interest. Wolfe encourages his readers to do the research behind their finds and to develop other skills, like bargaining, while they learn to discern both the personal as well as material value of an object. The usual items, like baseball cards and collector toys, are mentioned, but so are things like farm tools. This isn't a "get rich quick" book; instead, it focuses on helping kids learn about what they might find with a little digging and creativity. Many black-and-white photos and illustrations punctuate the text, and a collection of interesting facts is appended. A nice addition to any collection, especially for history (or television) buffs.—Carol Fazioli, Barth Elementary School, Pottstown, PA

Product Details

Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)
1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Kid Pickers

How to Turn Junk into Treasure

By Mike Wolfe, Lily Sprengelmeyer, Mike Right

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2013 Mike Wolfe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-01930-1



BY SIMPLY PICKING UP THIS BOOK, chances are you're probably a "picker" at heart, just like me. You've got a passion for rediscovering those once-forgotten items of our past, and the stories they tell. You love the excitement of hunting through old items, or those that were tossed aside to collect dust. You understand their importance because you picked it, and you've begun a new chapter in the life of your picked item ... now, that's cool.

So let's forget about what something's worth, or what everyone else around you likes. It's time to create your own story; find your own Passion. That's right, put on some old jeans, grab a flashlight, and set out for the journey that lies ahead. The adventure is all about finding — picking — items that will connect you closer to yourself and the people that surround you. Whether these items have been cherished in your family for centuries or you've uncovered a rusty broken wheel in your backyard, the point is it's your pick and that's what makes you a true Kid Picker.

As a seasoned picker myself, trust me when I say you've got all the tools you'll need just by going out and finding what you like. My favorite memories as a Kid Picker were those in which I was the leader of my own journey, going out in search of whatever caught my eye. Curiosity will be your best guide (and, of course, this wonderful book you're holding), as you are now the creator of your very own picking story. Join me by following the guidelines in the chapters ahead on searching, finding, collecting, sharing, and creating your own story. Your journey awaits, fellow Kid Pickers. What will your story be?


AGE 10

COLLECTS: Bottles, rockets, old toys

BEST PICK SO FAR: Old bottles found while digging in the dirt near his grandfather's shop




BEFORE YOU SET OUT into the world of picking, there are a few basics you'll need to know to get the best finds. And if you're like most beginning Kid Pickers, you probably don't have much in the piggy bank. No need to worry! The best picks you'll find will probably amount to the change found under your parents' couch, or your weekly allowance. But to be the very best Kid Picker in your neighborhood, you'll need to know where to look for the next best find. (And ask permission from your parents, too!)

Have a look at my list of the best picking places to explore, and if you're really interested, why not start your own neighborhood picker club? (Just make sure you're the boss!) Besides, picking in a group is much safer, and a whole lot more fun.


Picking in a group is one of the best ways to pick. Two sets of eyes are always better than one.


1 Your Neighborhood Garage Sales

I love scouring the newspaper for the next best pick. Start looking in your local paper, or simply keep your eyes peeled for signs advertising YARD SALE, GARAGE SALE, or even better yet, MOVING SALE. A moving sale usually means people have stuff they want to get rid of, which amounts to more items to pick from and better prices. Be prepared to use your bargaining skills. But I'll let the one and only Mr. PICKtionary tell you more about what it really means to bargain.



(the "official" picker dictionary) for all your reference needs!

BARGAINING — Bargaining means that you're negotiating with the seller to get the very best price. Say you find an old box of G.I. Joe action figures, priced at $2.00 each. This is where you will use your bargaining skills to offer to buy three G.I. Joe figures for $5. It's a win-win situation! The seller is happy to get rid of unwanted items, and you saved a few bucks by using a bit of confidence and some bargaining techniques.


Don't be afraid to bargain down prices wherever you pick. Nine times out of ten you'll get a better deal, and heck, all you had to do was ask!

2 Secondhand Stores (aka Thrift Stores)

Secondhand what ... you say? You know the places where your family donates items they don't want anymore? Well, that is exactly where you should hunt for the treasures that other people thought were merely junk, too. Some of my favorite undiscovered finds at secondhand stores are old board games and books. I love finding really old books and looking inside the covers, since people often wrote in them with old inkwell pens to tell who previously owned it, or wrote an inscription if it was a gift. It's great to imagine who may have owned it before. And board games are fun just because you can remind your parents how old they are. Take a look below at some of the secondhand stores you may have heard of and that may be in your area:

• Goodwill Industries

• St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores

• Salvation Army

• Arc Thrift Stores

3 The Auction!

Place your bids, Kid Pickers. Auctions are some of my favorite places to pick! An auction is not only going to be filled with interesting people from your town, but more importantly a wide assortment of unwanted stuff — the perfect place for a beginning picker. At an auction, an item or multiple items are offered up for bidding, with the highest bidder "winning" the item. You'll have to listen closely, as the auctioneer will likely be the fastest talker you've ever heard (it takes some time to get used to). Check out the list below for a few things to remember before you start bidding:

• You will need to go with an adult who can sign up for an ID number that you can bid with (don't worry, it doesn't cost anything to register).

• Try to get to an auction early, so you can look at what you are bidding on. (Don't forget to look under all those boxes, or any place other people may have looked over, since this is where you may find the best deals.)

• KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BIDDING ON! I'm serious about this, Kid Pickers. Auction life can be quite fast paced, so make sure you know the item you want to bid on and the limit of what you want to spend. I guarantee you, Mom or Dad will not be too happy if you spend more than you have, and you will be stuck mowing Aunt Cindy's lawn for the next three summers....

4 Antique Stores

I'm sure you're familiar with them. Antique stores are sometimes old, often disorganized, and well ... let's be honest, a bit smelly. Although they may be pricier than thrift stores or flea markets, there's always a chance of finding something that even the antique dealers have overlooked. Good dealers are history experts (it's what they do for a living), so if an item catches your eye — ask about it. I guarantee you'll leave with some interesting facts and hopefully an item you've picked. So get to work with that kid charm of yours, and don't forget to talk down prices. Let them know you mean business.

5 Flea Markets

Did you just say what I think you said? Fleas, as in those pesky things that bite animals (including your favorite dog, Knuckles)? Well, technically, I did say "flea," but this type of flea refers to a place where people bring items to sell. Flea markets can be held outdoors, but often you will find them set up in an old building, warehouse, or even your school gymnasium! Flea markets are a great place to bargain with people. I like to think of them as really big garage sales with all different types of people and things. So check out your local paper, or search the Internet for local areas your parents may be willing to drive you to.

If you're wondering where such a name like "FLEA MARKET" came to be, the term actually originated from European street markets where vendors sold many secondhand goods — so many that they were thought to gather fleas!


AGE 10

COLLECTS: Old cars (including Matchbox), Lincoln Logs and other old building logs, old toys

BEST PICK SO FAR: Old Ferris wheel toy and old car toy bought at flea market




IT'S A SAD TRUTH, my fellow Kid Pickers, but the average person (yes — that means you) throws away almost 1,460 pounds of trash every single year. But by simply being a picker and reusing items, you can make a difference. I'm proof that saving the earth can be a lot of fun. Who knows, you might even end up making a living out of it someday!

If you're asking yourself what picking has to do with saving the earth, think about it: Every time you choose to use something that was once considered trash (or items others no longer have a use for), you are reusing them, or in picker terminology, repurposing. Put simply, repurposing means making use of something again; what was once considered old, is ... new again.

Think of yourself as a "treasure rescuer." Every time you use an item no longer considered worthy or valuable, you are finding a new home for something that may have ended up in a garbage dump or been lost forever. Not only is it wasteful to trash useful items, but it adds to the problem of finding more space for our landfills. That is why it is so important to find the creativity within yourself, to see old items in a new way. Take a look at some more reasons why it's cool to repurpose:

The not-so-glamorous definition of a LANDFILL is what we usually call a "garbage dump." Landfills are generally built on low, flat land, where layers upon layers of trash are separated by clay, some type of lining, and soil, so as to keep as much harmful stuff from leaking into the soil as possible. (You don't want garbage juice to end up in your drinking water.)

Your History Rocks

Every item you pick has a story, or history, all to itself. That is what makes each item so unique. Close your eyes and imagine the life your item had before you. Think of the child who once played with an old toy (maybe your parents or grandparents owned it), or all of the adventures an old bicycle has seen. The more wear and tear an item has, the more it's been loved, just like an old teddy bear found tucked away under boxes: It may be missing an eye or two, but it only means it was once cherished. The point is — use your imagination and curiosity to find out the rest (and read on about history in Chapter Four). The possibilities are endless. Just think of all the cool things waiting to be uncovered and appreciated by a creative Kid Picker like you.

Your Item Is Unique

Being unique means being one of a kind, and whatever treasure you make is your own; no two will be the same. Look at the years of wear and tear as added style points — heck, no one else will have the exact same one, right? So if you feel like collecting old soda bottles and making your room into a 1950s soda parlor ... then do it. No one ever stood out in a crowd by doing what everyone else was doing.


Perfection is boring in my eyes. I'd pick a pair of vintage jeans any day over any new pair found in a store. Worn jeans have a history ... and that's cool.

You Save Money

Who doesn't want to save money? I can assure you, your parents will agree, too (college is expensive!). When you don't have to use the earth's natural resources to make a new item you would buy at the store, you most likely will not have to pay as much for it, either. Many of the items you pick won't even cost you a thing, since you're repurposing something that someone may have tossed in the trash pile. That makes cents!


AGE 11

COLLECTS: Jewelry, old pots and pewter items, old tools, Radio Flyer sleds, wind chimes, small glasses, all things metal

BEST PICK SO FAR: Old tires that were resold to a used-tire wholesaler





Have you ever found an old family photograph tucked away under boxes? Or discovered a letter written long ago? These artifacts tell a story, not only of when and where you found it, but more importantly about who may have made it or owned it before you. Think about what the person was like who owned it before it arrived in your hands. How old do you think the object is? Where did it come from? The true excitement lies in the mystery behind the items you pick, and I love history. It's unlikely you'll find out all there is to know about your object, and that's what makes the journey truly rewarding; use your imagination to fill in the rest.

When you pick, you're likely to come across a wide assortment of ARTIFACTS. An artifact is a man-made (yes ... made by a human) object that has a particular use. So if somebody made it, it's an artifact.


Since I'm sure most of you have heard of the movie Star Wars, let's pretend you bought a totally awesome Star Wars lunch box at a neighbor's garage sale a few weeks ago. Score! You've found an item and now what? How old is it? Who may have been the previous owner? How much is it worth? Where do I find more information on other Star Wars collectibles? Check out the list on the following pages for some great ways to find the history behind your pick.


With thousands, and I mean literally thousands, of books about Star Wars memorabilia, you're sure to find at least one at your local library that could give you some information on your latest pick. And if you're lucky, you may even find a book on collectible lunch boxes alone (there are several to choose from).


Type in the keywords "star wars" (in quotation marks) on a popular computer search engine like Google and you will find literally millions of hits covering everything there is to know about the topic (in fact, more than 170 million Star Wars hits, in case you were wondering). The only problem is, that is an overwhelming number. And more than likely you'll have trouble finding any information on your mysterious Star Wars lunch box. Have no fear! An easy way to search for any item you pick is to look it up on eBay or Amazon (Web sites where you can buy and sell items). You'll not only find your Star Wars lunch box, but you'll also find out some history behind your pick, and how much it is selling for. Keep in mind, be as specific as possible about the item you are searching for. Type in as many keywords as you can about the item you are researching, such as "1970s Star Wars vintage lunch box with thermos," otherwise you may be overwhelmed with hits.


Beware of what you read on the Internet, since often not all the information is factual. So, play it safe and double-check your facts in a book on the topic. Visit your local library for help.



Didn't you say you found your lunch box at a local garage sale? Well, what are you waiting for? Go back to your neighbors' house and ask them about your item. Chances are they have a story behind it, and would love to share it with you. What you pick says a lot about the person you are, and when you venture out in your community to learn more, you're connecting to your roots (there's no place like home). Every community has interesting characters with stories to tell; it's your job to find them and make certain they are never forgotten. Besides, I love talking to people firsthand about where items come from — I learn something every time and it's often a total surprise.

Who knows? You might find out that twenty years ago your lunch box was owned by a boy who used it every day for lunch throughout elementary school. I guarantee you won't find that information on the Internet or at the library! Your item now has a new sense of value because you know how much someone used it and loved it before you became a part of its history. Continue your picking journey, and maybe repurpose it to a once-again functioning lunch box. Who knows — you may start a new trend at school by having the first cool vintage lunch box.



COLLECTS: Rusty metal, old artifacts, antique toys, old pieces and parts

BEST PICK SO FAR: All of it. "You can't throw away history!"


Excerpted from Kid Pickers by Mike Wolfe, Lily Sprengelmeyer, Mike Right. Copyright © 2013 Mike Wolfe. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mike Wolfe has been diggin' and pickin' through junk since the age of four. As the star of the History Channel hit show American Pickers, Mike travels more than 60,000 miles a year around the country "making a living telling the history of America, one piece at a time." He divides his time between LeClaire, Iowa, and Nashville, Tennessee, where he owns the store Antique Archaeology.

Lily Sprengelmeyer is a third-grade elementary school teacher. She has been a lifelong picker, growing up in her father's eclectic antique store, La Belle Epoque in Galena, Illinois, where Mike Wolfe was a regular. She continues to reside in Galena.

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Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a kid's guide of how to find hidden treasures in the old stuff other people have just laying around in their houses, barns, yards, etc. it teaches kids the value of saving things from the past and reusing them in new ways
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very appropriate for children, Young folks can learn to respect others property ,when following advice in this book, great starter info for all those kid pickers out there just starting out.
61Mack More than 1 year ago
Too simplistic even for a 10 year old.