Author Interview & Giveaway: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

It was a bitterly cold day when Arthur T. Owens picked up a brick and threw it at an old trash picker. Fortunately it hit him in the arm and not the head. But the judge isn't buying Arthur's explanation. He's ready to send him to juvie for the foreseeable future. Shockingly, it's the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours...working for him. Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, wood, light bulbs, 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 collects is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine...

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by Shelley Pearsall
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | On sale September 8, 2015 | Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 978-0-553-49728-1| $16.99 | $19.99 Can. | 288 pages
Ebook: 978-0-553-49730-4| $10.99 | Hardcover Library Binding: 978-0-553-49730-4| $20.99 | $24.99 Can.

A former teacher and museum historian, SHELLEY PEARSALL is now a full-time writer. 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

How long did it take you to write “The Seventh Most Important Thing"? And subsequently how long did it take to edit and polish it to a state that it could be published? 
The story has been circling through my imagination for years, so when it came time to put the story on paper, the process was pretty quick. The book took about a year to write and edit—which is very speedy for me! Then you wait about a year for the book to be published.  

If writing had not worked out for you as a profession, what would've been your back up career plan? What would you pursue instead? 
I might have been an artist or a teacher…or hey, an art teacher! I enjoy writing scripts and educational programs, too, so I might have pursued a career in those fields.

Do you have any friends or family that read your rough drafts? If yes, do you change the outcome and plot based on their feedback?
My husband, Mike, always reads my first draft and gives me feedback. It isn’t an easy job to do, but so far, we are still married! I do take many of his suggestions. Sometimes, I’ll invite student volunteers to read my later drafts and offer feedback. Their names often appear in the acknowledgments section of my books.

What book (s) have influenced your life the most?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (the unforgettable characters)
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (the surprising ending)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (the memorable writing and observations about life)

Were you anything like any of your characters when you were their age?  
I think I was probably more like Squeak than Arthur in The Seventh Most Important Thing. I was a smart, kind of nerdy kid, who was fiercely loyal to my friends.

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