Written by D. S. Thornton
Capstone Young Readers 10/01/2015
352 pages Age 10—14
“Beneath a small Texan town lies s city unlike any other . . .
“Eleven-year-old Jerome Barnes isn’t expecting to find anything interesting in crazy Wild Willy’s junkyard. But then he discovers Arkie. Arkie is a Scrapper—a person made of old odds and ends come to life! And what’s more, there’s a whole city full of Scrappers right underneath Jerome’s town. Jerome and spunky little Arkie quickly become good friends, and for the first time since his mom and younger brother’s mysterious death, Jerome feels happy and loved. So when danger threatens to destroy Scrap City and all of its citizens, Jerome knows he must protect his new friends. But will he risk everything—his safety, his dad’s job, the town’s livelihood—all for Arkie and the Scrappers?” [back cover]
Scrap City will hold you like few stories really can. Jerome is left mostly to his own devices since his mom and younger brother died—and Jerome takes the blame. But when his dad and uncle stop by Wild Willy’s junkyard to convince the old man to sell his land, Jerome happens upon a new and quite unusual friend. Arkie spends most of his days above ground, despite orders to stay in Smithytowne for fear of being seen by people. While searching the junkyard for a new nose, Jerome and Arkie meet and from there a true friendship blossoms.
Jerome’s dad needs to sell the junkyard to a construction company determined to build apartments and a much-needed shopping center. If he does not, his real estate business may die and money will run out. Plus, Shoney Flats may well die without the new shopping center and the jobs it will bring to town. But something is off about this construction company and the apartments the company is building next to the junkyard. Wild Willy refuses to sell his land for reasons only he knows . . . until Jerome stumbles upon Wild Willy’s secret, causing Jerome to like the old man many call crazy. Jerome must decide whether to help his dad and uncle or his new friends in Smithytowne.
I greatly enjoyed Scrap City and would welcome another story based on these characters. Smithytowne, built under Shoney Flats, has a rising and setting sun, and luscious descriptions. Every inch of the city was visible in my mind’s eye. It is truly a utopia! Jerome is a believable character with faults and a goofy cousin he cannot shake. Arkie is cute despite being built out of an ice chest, mismatched mittens and gloves, a coffee can, and various other odds and ends from the junkyard. I could not put Scrap City down. For days after all I thought about was Jerome and Arkie. Smithytowne is a technological wonder and a place everyone would love to visit.
I have only one negative, which is the author’s inclusion of the past–to explain Smithytowne’s beginnings. It is unnecessary, a tad confusing, and dragged the story down a peg. Leaving out this section would not have hurt the story or caused a lack of understanding for readers. Wild Willy is the key and focus is best placed on this “crazy” old man, not hundreds of years earlier. I want to know more about the present day scrappers and their underground city. I love the secret scrapper activities that keep the town alive, yet are right in front of Shoney Flats residents—if they would only look.
Despite the detour into backstory, Scrap City is worth the read. D. S. Thornton writes a compelling story and knows how to draw in a reader. His descriptive prose is enticing and gorgeous. His characters are full of life and secrets of their own. If you love middle grade novels, middle grade fantasies, characters that come to life, and compelling situations with truly dastardly protagonists, Scrap City is for you. I promise the story will entice you and keep you glued to the pages. Scrap City is D. S. Thornton’s debut middle grade novel.
SCRAP CITY. Text copyright © 2015 by D. S. Thornton. Published by Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone imprint, North Mankato, MN.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: Scrap City by D. S. Thornton, and received from Capstone Young Readers, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”