Friday, December 30, 2016

Small Readers: Sky High: George Ferris's Big Wheel by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Gene Barretta

There has been a little surge of interest in Ferris wheels and several new books on this subject over the past year or two. I'm not sure exactly why, but it's always a popular topic for my area, since it ties in with our big county fair.

This high-level easy reader hits several simple points in the story of the creation of the first Ferris wheel and the life of George Ferris. Readers will learn how, as a boy, George enjoyed watching water wheels, how his wife encouraged him to enter for a contest for the World's Fair, and the difficulties he encountered in creating his great wheel.

Cheerful cartoons feature an (all white) cast of characters mainly composed of Ferris' family and investors. Even when laughing at his invention or refusing funding, all the people look friendly and cheerful which is a bit disconcerting.

This is a level 3 Step into Reading, aimed at grades 1-3. It has longer text, although still in a simple, large font, and more complicated vocabulary. Readers who are fairly confident will enjoy these titles with the shorter text and cheerful pictures.

Verdict: While the book is, generally speaking, historically accurate, it's an additional purchase at best. The easy reader format doesn't often lend itself well to history (in my opinion) as it doesn't have space or vocabulary to fully address the context of events. However, it's a good choice for kids who want additional reading material and might get interested in learning more about Ferris wheels or the World's Fair.

ISBN: 9781101934531; Published 2016 by Random House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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