The One Thing You'd Save

by Linda Sue Park, Robert Sae-Heng

If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park explores different answers to this provocative question in linked poems that capture the diverse voices of a middle school class. Illustrated with black-and-white art.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9781328515131
  • ISBN-10: 1328515133
  • Pages: 72
  • Publication Date: 03/16/2021
  • Carton Quantity: 48

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About the Book
About the Authors
  • About the Book
    If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park explores different answers to this provocative question in linked poems that capture the diverse voices of a middle school class. Illustrated with black-and-white art. 


    When a teacher asks her class what one thing they would save in an emergency, some students know the answer right away. Others come to their decisions more slowly. And some change their minds when they hear their classmates’ responses. A lively dialog ignites as the students discover unexpected facets of one another—and themselves. With her ear for authentic dialog and knowledge of tweens’ priorities and emotions, Linda Sue Park brings the varied voices of an inclusive classroom to life through carefully honed, engaging, and instantly accessible verse.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    “Imagine that your home is on fire. You’re allowed to save one thing. 

    Your family and pets are safe, so don’t worry about them.

    Your Most Important Thing. Any size. A grand piano? Fine.”

    For once we got good homework, not useless stuff like worksheets. 

    Best part is, Ms. Chang says we don’t have to write anything down, 

    just think about it so we can discuss it with everyone.

    We’re supposed to pretend there’s a fire, and we can save just one thing. 

    Ms. Chang says size and weight don’t matter—it could be anything. 

    And don’t worry about family or pets, they’re already safe. Phew!

    Makes things harder, though, ’cause I would’ve saved my nana first. 

    Arthritis—it hurts her to walk. If I tried to get her out, 

    I’d have to hurry her up and tell her she doesn’t need her good hat.

    Wonder what May’s taking. Maybe I’ll give her a call— 

    HEY, THAT’S IT! MY PHONE! I’ll need it to tell all my friends, 

    and besides, somebody’s gotta call 9-1-1, right?

    One thing? That’s impossible. How can I ever pick just one thing? 

    I’ve got so much stuff I’d want to take. My books, for a start. 

    My graphic novels and my manga, my Calvin and Hobbes—

    heck, my Neil deGrasse Tyson books, seven all by themselves! 

    I couldn’t pick a favorite, every one of them is awesome. 

    Oh man, I hate this, I’m never gonna be able to decide.

    “Promise you won’t think it’s stupid?” 

    “How can I promise that, girl, 

    when you didn’t tell me what it is yet? You tell me first, 

    then I tell you what I think, and you want me to be honest, right?”

    “Okay. It’s a sweater.” 

    “A sweater? Which one—oh no. Not that one—” 

    “Which one? Bet you’re wrong.” 

    “It’s that nasty blue cardigan, right? 

    You can’t be serious! Why would you take that ugly thing?”

    “I don’t care that it’s ugly—” 

    “But you hardly ever wear it! 

    I mean, when I can’t find my phone, it’s super annoying, 

    but that sweater, you wouldn’t even miss it, so why save it?”

    “If you lose your phone, you can always just get another one. 

    All your stuff gets stored in the cloud, right? But my one gran, 

    she’s gone, my other gran’s eyes so bad she can’t knit anymore,

    so there’s never gonna be another sweater like it 

    in the whole history of the universe, not ever. 

    Things that you can’t go buy another one, that’s what you gotta save.”

  • Reviews
    "[Park's] message is powerful: We don’t need a great blazing tragedy to determine what we hold most precious in our lives; we can define what’s vital through our thoughts and memories, always at hand, in our heads and hearts — safe, where the flames don’t reach."—New York Times Book Review 


    "Park’s verses provide a wonderfully nuanced portrayal of the preoccupations, loves, losses and aspirations of a diverse group of children and their teacher.... It’s impossible not to feel a sense of renewal from this thoughtful book."—BookPage 


    ★ "Newbery Medalist Park presents a provocative collection of narrative poems inspired by sijo, a 14th-century Korean syllabic verse form.... Coupled with debut illustrator Sae-Heng’s accessible grayscale sketches of the objects, often in situ, Park’s subjects’ mementos offer middle-grade readers much food for thought regarding what one values and how others can touch one’s life.... Park’s extended rumination has the power to bring us home."—Kirkus, STARRED review 


    ★ "This is an ode to learning with a savvy and caring educator who knows how to build community and empathy by having students share their stories and who joins in their exercises (and is even convinced to change her mind)."—The Horn Book, STARRED review 


    ★ "The class’s camaraderie and caring spirit comes through clearly, poised to inspire thoughtful classroom discussion."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review 


    ★ "This is a combination of piquant premise and accessible, engaging text... that will invite both reluctant and enthusiastic literati to reconsider their possessions. It also cries out to be a classroom read or even readaloud."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED review

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