Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mr.Ferris and His Wheel

Mr.Ferris and His Wheel
by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
illustrated by Gilbert Ford

published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Kids today take the Ferris Wheel for granted. Ferris Wheels are everywhere - State Fair, Disneyland, Carnival... as are other fun "rides".

Who designed these rides? How do they know it's safe? How do they test it without hurting anybody?

The book unfolds the story of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, a mechanical engineer, whose relentless effort, and tireless drive to outdo the Eiffel Tower, resulted in the now ubiquitous Ferris Wheel.

At the peak of the innovation phase that the country was experiencing, where entrepreneurship and pure spunk were celebrated, Mr.Ferris came up with this giant metal wheel on which people can ride.

The narration is straightforward and quite wordy, yet easily digestible by the young audience. The drama and momentum comes from the fact that deadline was fast approaching for the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and yet America had not settled on the show-stopper to stun the world. And, despite being the best design, Mr.Ferris had no funding to make a working prototype.

All's well that ends well, of course. We know how popular the Ferris Wheel has become. To think that Mr.Ferris called it Monster Wheel!

The younger child at home enjoyed it much - read it aloud one night when I had severe migraine and excused myself from reading to him, promising to listen to every word if he read it aloud to me.

[View images from the book at Gilbert Ford's site]

[image source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt website]

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