This novel starts with PIerre Anthon, a 7th grade Dutch boy, leaving class on the 1st day of school after being bothered by his teacher's words. Pierre felt that nothing in life matters and since he's aware of this, nothing is worth doing. Pierre goes home and climbs up a plum tree, which is where he has lived since the day he left school. Pierre teases other students and throws plums at them as they walk to school. Pierre tells the other children that they are working hard for nothing because nothing matters. The children grow tired of Pierre's treatment, and they all throw stones at him and knock him out of the tree. Pierre leaves the tree to recover from his fall, but he returns 2 days later with more insults and he continued to throw plums. The other kids were tired of him so they met on the school soccer field to come up with a plan to get Pierre out of that tree. The children decided to create a heap of meaningful things which included items that were important to all of them. They would show the heap to Pierre and he would be forced to see that there are things that matter in the world. As the kids put the heap together, they force one another to give up their most important things. They also start to do mean things to each other and have mean thoughts because they have to give up things that are special to them! They even go as far as to rob the grave of one of the children's dead sibling's because the sibling was important to her.
"Nothing matters. I have known that for a long time. So nothing is worth doing. I just realized that."
"Take joy in this day, children. There would be no such thing as vacation were it not for such a thing as school."
"Look at all of you walking to school as if it matters. Nothing matters and you will all be nothing in the future!"
"Pierre is being really annoying. We have to show him that some things matter and get him out of that tree."
"Let's all meet on the soccer field at recess to come up with a plan to get Pierre out of that plum tree."
"There is an abandoned sawmill behind my house, we can keep the heap there."
"Maybe we can get items that matter and we can pile them up and call them the heap of meaning."
"Okay, here is the abandoned sawmill. We just need to get a lock to make sure nobody can get in but us."
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