All beautiful and noble possiblities are present in everyone…. [I] appeal to the young to make the most of themselves because of the vast possibilities that are in them.”

—Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Last week, I read a new book to Jack and Jane: The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. I love Polacco’s characteristically stylized illustrations.

But more, I love the way she shows (without pendantry!), through her story and her art, the personhood inherent in every child, the sheer possibilities with which each of us is born, regardless of our physical or mental handicaps.

This is the story of children who are denied both personhood and possibility by far too many people in their lives. One of the children is dyslexic. One has Tourette’s. Another never speaks. Still another has what is probably Marfan Syndrome. They’re not quite persons in the minds of the Powers That Be, so they’re shunted into a special class. It’s called The Junkyard.

Enter the wonderful Mrs. Peterson, teacher of the Junkyard kids. She believes in these kids, in their inherent personhood and all the possibility that entails: intelligence, creativity, compassion, friendship. She expects them to live up to her belief in them and fosters their confidence that they can. And so, what is supposed to be a holding pen of shame becomes instead a place of flourishing.

At the end of the book is a short afterword, and I learned that the story is based on Polacco’s own childhood, that the characters are real people who grow up to … but I won’t spoil it for you. Let me just say I cried reading that afterword.

And when Jane asked my mother-in-law to read the book to her, Peggy wept as she neared the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cry before.

This book, is that good. Please, don’t miss it.

Tears glistened in Mrs. Peterson’s eyes as she watched the Wonder climb into the heavens.

“Like I said,” Gibbie whispered, “that baby is going straight to the moon.”

Florilegium comes from two Latin words, meaning flower (flor) and gather (legere). Legere is closely related to the Latin word for reading (lectio). So a florilegium is literally a gathering of the flowers of reading: a collation of the best words, the best books.

I hope you’ll come by every Friday to gaze on some beautiful heart-mind-and-soul flowers. (And stop in at Susan’s, too, for another bouquet).