May 22, 2017

The ferris wheel

Now that summer is almost here, amusement parks are preparing for business. Their roller coasters are the prime attraction, but for a more leisurely experience, you still can't beat the ferris wheel. A peaceful ride, it offers an excellent view as well! 

The ferris wheel is named after its inventor, George Ferris. His story is told in the following picture books.

The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris
by Betsy Harvey Kraft
illustrated by Steven Salerno

The organizers of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair needed an attraction that would dazzle visitors. Inspired by the success of the Eiffel Tower, engineers submitted plans for look-alike towers. Only George Ferris thought up something different. Concerned about safety, the fair  organizers were leery of Ferris' giant observation wheel, but eventually gave the go ahead. The rest, as they say, was history.

Kraft tells the story in dramatic fashion, detailing the wheel's challenging construction and its eventual success. An account of the wheel withstanding a tornado adds even more excitement. 

Salerno's pictures are an especial standout, showcasing to excellent effect the wheel's size and perspectives.

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

More simply told, Davis' story about George Ferris empathizes his financing difficulties, some of the construction problems, and the opening day's festivities. The text flows quite well, nicely encapsulating the main events. Similarly, Ford's pictures capture period details very well, though his palette is a bit on the dark side.

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