Enter George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., an engineer who had a dream. Instead of going straight up and being stationary, George's dream was round and moving. At first, his proposal was rejected by the contest judges as too big, too complicated, but as the time for the fair drew closer, the judges changed their minds, but refused to fund George's project. With the help of private investors, and a lot of hard work, the 1893 World's Fair opened with a most successful star attraction: The Ferris Wheel.
Kathryn Gibbs Davis has written this wonderfully detailed, absolutely accessible picture book about the first Ferris wheel for older readers who have most likely seen and maybe ever ridden a Ferris wheel, but who probably have never thought about how it was done, or by whom, for that matter.
What an inspiring story it is, too. George Ferris met with obstacles from the judges first rejection of his idea, to his difficulties getting his dream wheel funded, and when ground was finally broken, the workmen ran into problems with broken tools, quicksand (yes, quicksand, the stuff of grade B movies), Chicago's strong winds, and, of course, skepticism. But George Ferris had a dream and perseverance, as well as confidence in his skill as an engineer and in the new amazingly strong metal - steel - that he used and his dream came true on June 21, 1893, opening day of the World's Fair.
Not only has Gibbs written a very readable book, but she has included sidebars of factual information throughout the book, giving more information about the Ferris Wheel and how George made it work. And there is lots of wonderful back matter, including quote sources, a selected bibliography and websites the curious can visit for more information. There is also a photograph of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., taken from the Chicago World's Fair pamphlet.
The illustrations are done in a digitally mixed media using ink and watercolor and using a soft palette of purples, yellows, blues and greens and that just feel so right for the time period. I particularly liked the cover illustration showing the Ferris Wheel lit up again a night sky, towering over the buildings that surround it, but under the twinkling stars of the heavens. It gives such a wonderful perspective of the magnitude of this amazing accomplishment.
This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was purchased for my personal library
|Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Fair|
This is book 8 of my Nonfiction Picture Book Reading Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy