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The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia…

The Planet of Junior Brown (edition 1971)

by Virginia Hamilton

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273341,545 (3.02)4
Title:The Planet of Junior Brown
Authors:Virginia Hamilton
Info:New York : Collier Books, 1986, c1971.
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, young adult, New York, New York City, African-American, homelessness, poverty

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The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton



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Read for the Children's book group at the Collins Branch Library (Cambridge)

I found the beginning of the book disorienting: a long scene in a secret basement room of a school, where two students - Buddy Clark and Junior Brown - are hiding away with a teacher-turned-janitor, Mr. Pool. They have created a haven for themselves there, complete with a recreation of the solar system, plus a tenth planet (the titular Planet of Junior Brown)(this was back when there were nine planets. RIP Pluto).

Buddy's story is a bit more straightforward than Junior's: homeless since the age of 9, he has learned how to get by on the streets of New York, receiving help from older boys and helping younger ones in turn.

Junior lives with his asthmatic mother; his father works in New Jersey and comes home (some) weekends (or not - do we ever actually see him, or is he a fiction?). Junior is supposedly a superb piano player, but again, we don't actually see him play; his piano at home has had all the strings removed, and he is forbidden to play the piano at his teacher Miss Peebs' house. (To complicate matters, Miss Peebs is a crazy hoarder; her insanity is immediately apparent to Buddy if not to Junior.)

Buddy and Junior's absences from school are eventually noticed, and Buddy helps Junior hide on one of his "planets," havens for homeless children.


How come one boy was so different from another when they both hurt the same? Buddy wondered. (86)

...a planet of homeless children? (197) ( )
  JennyArch | Sep 17, 2015 |
Plodding prose, I'll-defined characters, and too much weirdness that never pays off. I honestly have no idea how this won an award. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
Junior Brown is a sheltered three hundred pound boy with quite an imagination and his friend Buddy Clark have been avoiding their 8th grade classroom all semester….they spend much of their time in a small cellar room behind a mysterious wall where the janitor had been building a mobile of the solar system. The boys become fasinated and skip out on class to hear the many stories Mr. Pool has to share. His guidance and wisdom fills the young boys heads with fantasy and hope...Then one day, when in their ‘hide-out’ they get caught… what comes next is a beautiful story of a true friendship.
  amspicer | Nov 24, 2009 |
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Book description
Junior Brown, an overprotected three-hundred pound musical prodigy who's prone to having fantasies, and Buddy Clark, a loner who lives by his wits because he has no family whatsoever, have been on the hook from their eighth-grade classroom all semester.

Most of the time they have been in the school building — in a secret cellar room behind a false wall, where Mr. Pool, the janitor, has made a model of the solar system. They have been pressing their luck for months...and then they are caught. As society — in the form of a zealous assistant principal — closes in on them, Junior's fantasies become more desperate, and Buddy draws on all his resources to ensure his friend's well-being.
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Already a leader in New York's underground world of homeless children, Buddy Clark takes on the responsibility of protecting the overweight, emotionally disturbed friend with whom he has been playing hooky from eighth grade all semester.

(summary from another edition)

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