Auggie lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. Auggie is labeled by some as a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Auggie and Gus may not have much money but Auggie has plenty of spirit and imagination. Where others see “broken-down and ugly poverty,” Auggie finds beauty and possibilities. Big trouble begins brewing when the city’s newly organized House Beautification Committee declares that homes like Auggie’s are “in violation” and could be condemned. But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.
What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a bigger battle than they imagined but also a stronger community of friends that they ever knew they had.
Auggie and Grandpa Gus begin making art out of junk to try to save their home and neighborhood. They just need a pick-up truck of junk, a lot of elbow grease and re-seeing what others have thrown away. Discarded toasters become pop up flowers; a church’s broken glass windows become a rainbow walkway.
And always, Auggie holds on to her hope that her Mom might return just in time to see the beautiful and loved home that she left long ago.
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY opens up many questions about not only what is beautiful but who has the right to make that judgment about others, especially their homes, yards, and neighborhoods.
I had the opportunity to ask the author, Holly Schindler, this question and others:
Q: Holly, as you were developing the story, first may I ask, what were Auggie’s small and large acts of courage that you chose to show the strengthening of confidence?
Holly: When Auggie sets out to improve her house, to a great extent, she’s trying to make herself feel better. She wants to prove to herself that she’s not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest—even more than she wants to prove it to Victoria. But when those notices start arriving from the House Beautification Committee, she’s got to stand up for herself in ways she never imagined. It’s quite a journey that Auggie goes on—that young girl who was terrified of a storm and had to ride out the lightning in her grandfather’s arms becomes a girl who stands up in a very public way to show her entire hometown why they’ve been wrong about her house.
Q: If a reader wants to try to create “found objects art,” can you suggest websites or books that give ideas or directions?
Holly: Found art doesn’t have to be as extravagant as Auggie’s full-blown house renovations. My brother’s an antiques dealer, and we’ve often reinvented his auction buys in order to sell them—once, we turned a broken mandolin into wall art! My favorite reinvented “art” piece is a necklace I strung from broken parts and vintage beads.
Q: Can you recommend any websites of art museums that show images of a variety of folk art?
Holly: The American Folk Art Museum’s a great place to start: http://www.folkartmuseum.org/
If you’d like to see some examples of folk art environments like Auggie’s house, be sure to check out the Watt’s Towers in Los Angeles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Towers. Or check out The Orange Show in Texas.
Q: I was especially taken by Auggie’s sculpture list she describes toward the end of the book, a list of new sculptures that are on her mind:
1. A girl made out of steel because she’s so tough – and she’s staring down a hose painted up like a copperhead snake.
2. A girl who is so special, she has a picture frame for a face.
3. A girl who is reaching for a star.
Could you comment on what “reaching for a star” might mean to Auggie at this moment?
Holly: So many things, really. I think it shows the pride she feels in herself. By saving her home and her neighborhood, she knows she’s already reached for a star and grabbed it. She knows in her heart that the next time she tries to reach for a star, it might not necessarily be easy, but absolutely doable. Auggie no longer feels her skin is the color of mud. That makes reaching for a star feel like a completely different task.
Holly is interested in hearing from her readers. She has created a site for young readers, Holly Schindler’s Middles, where she interacts with her MG readership. She is devoting a page to reviews from young readers themselves!
To read more, follow Holly’s blog tour which will begin March 1st at Biblio File.