Thursday, February 3, 2011

"The Great Wheel"

"The Great Wheel" by Robert Lawson is a book about Conn Kilroy, the Irish teenager with an interesting fortune. 

When Conn was twelve years old, Aunt Honora read his fortune from the tea leaves in his cup. She told him, "mind well what I'm telling you now. Your fortune lies to the west. Keep your face to the sunset and follow the evening star, and one day you'll ride the greatest wheel in all the world."
Conn waits six years, and one day, gets a letter from his uncle living in America, asking him to come and work with him. Conn is soon on his way to America, hoping that his fortune will start to make sense after he goes west. But there are no wheels. However, Conn does find something - or someone, that is. He meets Trudy, a young German girl, headed for Wisconsin.  The day comes when they must depart, and Conn goes to New York to live with his Uncle Michael.  After living there for a while, Uncle Patrick comes to visit.  He soon learns of Conn's fortune, and is amazed. 
He [Uncle Patrick] was about to help construct a giant wheel ride for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and is sure that's the explanation behind Conn's fortune. Thus, Conn goes to Chicago with his Uncle Patrick, to build what is now known as the Ferris Wheel.

This book looked good. It's a Newberry Honor Book, and it was both written and illustrated by Robert Lawson (the same man who illustrated "Mr. Popper's Penguins".) 
I was thinking, "Surely there's not going to be much stuff about the Ferris Wheel. He's going to fall for a girl, and the wheel will just serve as a nice setting." I thought I was right after reading the first couple chapters. But then....
I proved myself wrong. There are a few chapters where it seems as if all you're reading is a manual on how to construct a Ferris wheel. There were a few special moments, but it wasn't my favorite book. And then, at the end, I was grinning from ear to ear as I was reading the last sentence. It just might have had the sweetest, most romantic ending.  Ever. And so, it had a good beginning, an even better ending, and just a teeny bit of a disappointing middle. 

Having said all that, I finished it with a smile on my face, and I will probably read it again. I give it four stars. There's nothing bad in it at all, so it's fine for all ages, but it might not hold the attention of a child under six. It is a chapter book, after all. 16 chapters, to be exact. It has 180 pages, but the font is larger. It was a touching story, one that I'll probably never forget.

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