What It Is About: Arthur is having a tough time. His father has recently died and when he makes a poor decision that winds him up in a courtroom in front of a judge; he realizes his life has taken a turn for the worse. Arthur and his mother are surprised when the judge sentences him to "community service" with the man he actually harmed during his crime. Arthur knows him as the "junk man" who wanders the street collecting junk in his grocery cart. Each Saturday he is to report for "duty" and help this man with whatever jobs he needs done. What the man has in store for Arthur isn't your typical punishment. Arthur learns that he must collect "items" (junk) around the neighborhood and return them so the gentleman can use them. He is creating some sort of "masterpiece" and Arthur isn't sure how this "stuff" is going to be used. Each item represents an important object in life and Arthur learns a lot about himself, the artist, and his father's death through this community service.
What I Thought Of It: This was a great and powerful read. Had I had more time during September, I would have torn through the story pretty quick. Being the first month back to work, I didn't have as much time as I normally do to read. Each night I would read several chapters before my eyes got too tired and I ended up falling asleep. One aspect I really liked was that Arthur was a great kid that just happened to make a really poor choice. This was a refreshing change from other books when the "bad" kid turns "good" by the end of the story. I enjoyed reading about the relationship that developed between Arthur and the gentleman that he hurt. I also liked the friendship between Arthur and another student at school. There were lots of great life lessons in the story and many themes and ideas that could be discussed.
Who Should Read It: The book is geared toward readers that are ages ten and above. I would completely agree with this. It isn't a tough read and not a super long book. Students in grades four, five, and six could handle it with no issues. I'm thinking it could make for a strong read aloud and may up on my list to share with my class (4th grade) this year. Adults that are fans of excellent middle-grade novels, will also find this a satisfying read. Happy Reading!!!
Rating: 4+ STARS out of 5 Stars