The Seventh Most Important Thing

The Seventh Most Important Thing

by Shelley Pearsall


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This “luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews) story of anger and art, loss and redemption will appeal to fans of Lisa Graff’s Lost in the Sun and Vince Vawter’s Paperboy.

Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge—he is ready to send Arthur to juvie forever. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service . . . working for him.
Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it—is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine. . . .
Inspired by the work of folk artist James Hampton, Shelley Pearsall has crafted an affecting and redemptive novel about discovering what shines within us all, even when life seems full of darkness.
“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye.” —Booklist, starred review
“There are so many things to love about this book. Remarkable.” —The Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553497311
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 34,635
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

A former teacher and museum historian, SHELLEY PEARSALL is now a full-time author. The idea for this novel began many years ago when she first saw outsider artist James Hampton’s amazing work at the Smithsonian. She was disappointed that so little is known about Hampton and was intrigued that his work was brought to light by anonymous sources. It was the perfect foundation for this redemptive, inspiring historical novel. Her first novel, Trouble Don’t Last, won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. To learn more about the author and her work, visit

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Excerpted from "The Seventh Most Important Thing"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Shelley Pearsall.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
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.

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The Seventh Most Important Thing 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and it is amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The end is kinda sad but its worth it :}
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rebecca_J_Allen More than 1 year ago
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall - Set in the 1960’s, this story dives into the life of Arthur T. Owens, a boy who picks up a brick and throws it at an old trash picker. Instead of sending Arthur to juvie, the judge sentences him to work for the man he assaulted for 120 hours, 4 hours every Saturday. Arthur is grossed out to find he’s expected to pick through trash looking for the seven things on the trash picker’s list. Shelley makes the character of Arthur really come to life...I found myself wondering if this story was really fiction. The book delves into the problems in Arthur's life that led to him throwing the brick, his struggle to accomplish a disgusting and degrading task so he won’t end up back at juvie, and how he grows as a result of his relationship with the man he assaulted. It provides a great lesson on how one moment of anger can change your life if a way that kids today will easily relate to. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was helpful and helped me with most of my life...all I can say is...thank you, so very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For a book project where u got to choose the book... i saw it in the school library and it looked interesting so i picked it up. The cover looked interesting but barely scratched the surface of how good and interesting this book was. -Justeen
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good. I would definetly recommend it. It is must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago