ONE KID’S TRASH: Hugo the Garbologist Shares the Story Behind 5 Pieces of Trash

Trash may be kinda gross and a little bit stinky, but it can tell you a lot about a person. Lift the lid on any garbage can, and you’ll find snippets of a person’s life – what they had for lunch, scraps of a note they started writing and scribbled out, packaging from their brand new headphones. Garbage tells a story, and in One Kid’s Trash, Hugo is super skilled at reading people through the clues in their discarded stuff.

Hugo O’Connell has never been popular. He’s small for his age and often gets called mean nicknames like “leprechaun” or as seen more as an adorable little brother type by the girls in his class. If things weren’t tricky enough, he’s moving to a new town in the mountains of Colorado, where his dad has landed a new job as a ski instructor. He’s also headed to an all-new school – could this be his chance to reinvent himself?

Book Cover for One Kid's Trash by Jamie Sumner

From the acclaimed author of Roll with It and Tune It Out comes a funny and moving middle grade novel about a boy who uses his unusual talent for decoding people’s trash to try to fit in at his new school.

Hugo is not happy about being dragged halfway across the state of Colorado just because his dad had a midlife crisis and decided to become a ski instructor. It’d be different if Hugo weren’t so tiny, if girls didn’t think he was adorable like a puppy in a purse and guys didn’t call him “leprechaun” and rub his head for luck. But here he is, the tiny new kid on his first day of middle school.

When his fellow students discover his remarkable talent for garbology, the science of studying trash to tell you anything you could ever want to know about a person, Hugo becomes the cool kid for the first time in his life. But what happens when it all goes to his head?

One Kid’s Trash
AUTHORS: Jamie Sumner
PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
DATE: August 31, 2021

Leaving his comfortable life behind won’t be easy, but at least he has his cousin Vijay to show him the ropes. At his new school, Hugo uses his cleverness and keen observation skills to stay out of trouble and stay under the radar – except for bully Chance Sullivan. But the other students discover Hugo’s interest in Garbology, aka the science of studying garbage. He’s able to tell you anything you want to know about a person by deciphering the secrets their trash holds, and his fellow students are majorly impressed. They start bringing him all sorts of trash to analyze, and he finds himself in the cool crowd for the first time in his life! This sweet story of growing up, honesty, and finding your people is an honest and relatable glimpse into middle school life that we think you’ll love!

Since we’re totally fascinated by Hugo’s amazing Garbology talents, we asked him to read some trash and share a peek into his life in One Kid’s Trash!

Hugo the Garbologist Shares the Story Behind 5 Pieces of Trash:

Take an exclusive peek into the story through Hugo’s eyes as he shares the stories behind 5 pieces of trash, written by author Jamie Sumner.

One Unopened “Very Vanilla” Weight Gain Shake:

Listen, I’ve got nothing against a good milkshake. But this “very vanilla” Pediasure nonsense is not a milkshake. It’s the goop my mom thinks will be the magic trick to make me finally grow. Sorry, Mom, I’m eleven, and I will forever be the first kid in the lineup on picture day. Shortest first. Shortest always. If I’m going to get picked on for being small, at least let me enjoy life’s few pleasures…like not drinking this liquid chalk. Down to the bottom of the trash it goes.

Slip of Paper Covered in Orange Goo From a Fortune Cookie That Reads “Now is the Time to Try Something New.”:

It’s the night before my first day of middle school. And thanks to my dad’s midlife crisis and huge move across Colorado, it will be my first day as the new kid in town. He thinks he can buy me off with mediocre Chinese food. Not a chance. We had better orange chicken in Denver. And now my fortune cookie is on his side. “Now is the time to try something new”? As if I have a choice. Way to state the obvious, fortune gods.

A Half-Finished New York Times Crossword Puzzle, the Saturday Edition:

Who in the whole wide world would ever know the six-letter same of “Astronaut Collins”? Actually, Dad would. He knows all the science and history stuff. So if he would show up like he promised, then Mom and I could have finished the Saturday puzzle like we always do. But Dad is never here. Dad is on the mountain. Dad is always on the mountain. I hate it here. My only friend is my cousin. My mom who is a therapist is having an actual mental breakdown because she misses her job and I can’t exactly tell her she needs to talk to someone.

I’ve already met my new worst enemy – Chance Sullivan – who, when I said hello, made sure to say loud enough for the whole locker room to hear, “Don’t worry, you still got a few years for that voice to drop.” His own voice is the rumble of a motor, a pack-a-day man, a superhero. I will not cry.

One Clipped Ski Lift Ticket from Opening Day on the Mountain:

I have one word for the opening day of ski season on the mountain: EPIC! Maybe Dad’s new job as ski instructor and all-around mountain handyman will finally pay off. Mom and I still never see him because he’s working all the time, which is the one thing he said would be different when we made this big move. We eat dinner without him, including fish Fridays. But he made up for all of that today. Because I don’t know any other kid who gets first dibs on fresh powder on opening day!

We got five runs in after school before the lift closed, just me and him. Five beautiful runs on new snow with no crowds and best of all, no Chance Sullivan there to push me around for being small. It doesn’t matter how big you are on the mountain. It’s all about speed. I was going to save this ticket for the rest of my life as proof of the awesomeness that was today, but Dad promised we’d do it again tomorrow, so I’m throwing it away so it will come true.

One Crumpled Piece of Notebook PaperTorn Crooked with “Dear Vij, I’m sorr—”:

Why should I apologize for skiing on opening day without him? Just because Vijay is my cousin, doesn’t mean I owe him anything. I mean, yeah, he showed me around Beech Creek Middle and introduced me to his friends on the newsletter. But everything comes easy to Vij. He’s cool without trying. He’s acing Algebra. He’s funny and chill. Yes, it was his idea to share my talent for decoding people’s trash with the rest of the sixth grade. Now I’m cool too, cooler than him, which is probably what he’s really mad about and it has nothing to do with the skiing so that’s a double reason not to apologize!

I can look at anybody’s trash and tell you everything you need to know about them. But it doesn’t take a genius or a Garbologist to see what Vij’s problem is. He’s jealous. He can’t handle my coolness. I’d talk to Dad about it but he’s still in absentia. Hey, that’s a good crossword puzzle clue. See, I don’t need Vij or Dad.

Think this story sounds amazing? We think you’ll love the author’s other book, Tune it Out, about a girl finding her own voice after her whole world is turned upside down.

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