Ferris Wheels

Oh, the Fer­ris wheel. Even if you’re afraid of heights, as I am, you can’t help but feel the attrac­tion of the mag­nif­i­cent Fer­ris wheel, first set up at the 1893 World Columbian Expo­si­tion in Chica­go, Illi­nois, in the Unit­ed States. The his­to­ry of the Fer­ris wheel, which offers astound­ing views, is com­pelling as are the sci­ence and math and poet­ry and pos­si­bil­i­ties all wrapped into this wheel that turns its way into the sky. Found around the world, there is a mag­i­cal qual­i­ty to Mr. Fer­ris’ inven­tion that brings joy.

A Fabulous Fair Alphabet  

A Fab­u­lous Fair Alphabet
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Debra Frasier
Beach Lane Books, 2010

This alpha­bet book cel­e­brates state and coun­ty fairs with vivid illus­tra­tions for each let­ter (we par­tic­u­lar­ly love M and N, Mid­way Nights) that are clev­er­ly cre­at­ed from real fair let­ters pho­tographed at a real state fair. The Fer­ris wheel is on the cov­er but you’ll also find dill pick­les and cot­ton can­dy and those cute ani­mals. This book pro­vid­ed inspi­ra­tion for the Alpha­bet For­est at the Min­neso­ta State Fair, a bright spot of learn­ing games for fam­i­lies. Oth­er states are now adopt­ing this extreme­ly pop­u­lar fea­ture … all based on the book! 

Fair Weather


Fair Weath­er
writ­ten by Richard Peck
Dial Books, 2001

When 13-year-old Rosie Beck­ett trav­els from her family’s farm to vis­it Aunt Euterpe in Chica­go, she’s excit­ed to vis­it the World’s 1893 Columbian Expo­si­tion. Her entire fam­i­ly shares this expe­ri­ence in a fast-paced, fun­ny way, encoun­ter­ing Buf­fa­lo Bill’s Wild West Show and rid­ing the Fer­ris Wheel. Rosie’s world expands expo­nen­tial­ly and the read­er is hap­py to be along for the adven­ture. Mid­dle-grade nov­el that will be enjoyed by all ages.

Ferris Wheel  

The Fan­tas­tic Fer­ris Wheel
writ­ten by Bet­sy Har­vey Kraft
illus­trat­ed by Steven Salerno
Hen­ry Holt, 2015

The World’s Fair in Chica­go, 1893, was to be a spec­tac­u­lar event: archi­tects, musi­cians, artists, and inven­tors worked on spe­cial exhibits to dis­play the glo­ries of their coun­tries. But the Fair’s plan­ners want­ed some­thing real­ly spe­cial, some­thing on the scale of the Eif­fel Tow­er, which had been con­struct­ed for France’s fair three years ear­li­er. At last, engi­neer George Fer­ris had an idea — a crazy, unre­al­is­tic, gigan­tic idea. He would con­struct a twen­ty-six-sto­ry tall obser­va­tion wheel.

George Ferris: What a Wheel  

George Fer­ris: What a Wheel
writ­ten Bar­bara Lowell
illus­trat­ed by Jer­ry Hoare
Gros­set & Dun­lap, 2014

A book of facts and details and expla­na­tions about the Fer­ris wheel to answer ques­tions kids and grownups have about the irre­sistibly biggest sky ride at our fairs and festivals.

Great Wheel  

Great Wheel
writ­ten by Robert Lawson
Walk­er Children’s Books, 2004
orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1957

In 1893, Conn Kil­roy emi­grates to Amer­i­ca from Ire­land. His Uncle Patrick invites him to trav­el far­ther into America’s heart­land, where they will work on erect­ing the Fer­ris wheel that appeared at Chicago’s 1893 World Expo­si­tion. Richard Peck says in his intro­duc­tion, “[This] book is in fact the biog­ra­phy of the first Fer­ris Wheel … the moon shot of its time …” A New­bery Hon­or book.

Hope is a Ferris Wheel  

Hope is a Fer­ris Wheel
writ­ten by Robin Herrera
Abrams, 2014

Ten-year-old Star Mack­ie lives in a trail­er park with her flaky mom and her melan­choly old­er sis­ter, Win­ter, whom Star idol­izes. Mov­ing to a new town has made it dif­fi­cult for Star to make friends, when her class­mates tease her because of where she lives and because of her lay­ered blue hair. But when Star starts a poet­ry club, she devel­ops a love of Emi­ly Dick­in­son and, through Dickinson’s poet­ry, learns some impor­tant lessons about her­self and comes to terms with her hopes for the future.

London Eye Mystery  

Lon­don Eye Mystery
writ­ten by Siob­han Dowd
David Fick­ling Books, 2007

Ted and Kat watched their cousin Sal­im board the Lon­don Eye. But after half an hour it land­ed and every­one trooped off — except Sal­im. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have dis­ap­peared into thin air? Ted and his old­er sis­ter, Kat, become sleuthing part­ners, since the police are hav­ing no luck. Ulti­mate­ly it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mys­tery. This is a ter­rif­ic thriller of a book.


Mr.  Ferris and His Wheel  

Mr. Fer­ris and His Wheel
rit­ten by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
illus­trat­ed by Gilbert Ford
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2014

Cap­tur­ing an engi­neer’s cre­ative vision and mind for detail, this ful­ly illus­trat­ed pic­ture book biog­ra­phy sheds light on how the Amer­i­can inven­tor George Fer­ris defied grav­i­ty and seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble odds to invent the world’s most icon­ic amuse­ment park attrac­tion, the Fer­ris wheel. Orbis Pic­tus Hon­or Book.

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