[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Story of the World’s Greatest Ride

Fats here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Written by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
Illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing (2014)
ISBN-10: 0547959222
ISBN-13: 978-0547959221

I bought a copy of this book a while back. I discovered this at work, in passing, while I was discharging library materials. I was captivated by the cover and I decided to order my own copy from Amazon. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel was a magical addition to my picturebook collection.

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“Make no little plans; they have no
magic to stir men’s minds.”
— Daniel H. Burnham, American architect

In Mr. Ferris and His Wheel, Kathryn Gibbs Davis tells the story of a man whose wild idea changed the world. It was 1893 and a young engineer was determined to make America shine at the Chicago World’s Fair. His name was George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

George had designed some of America’s biggest bridges and roads. Inspired and challenged by the majesty of the Eiffel Tower, which thwarted America’s Washington Monument as the tallest man-made structure in the world, George thought of building a structure that was not only huge but would also move.

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The construction chief of the fair dismissed George’s structure as something “so flimsy it would collapse.” Looking at George’s drawings, the chief thought that it was too big and too complicated to build. The judges did not think much of George’s crazy idea, either, but they agreed to make it the main attraction of the fair. The only catch was that they would not give George any funding to build it. Most lenders laughed at him, too. With the help of a few investors and his own money, George was able to get the materials he needed.

Finally, with only two months left, the last section was bolted into place.

And there stood a perfect, enormous circle: 834 feet in circumference, rising 265 feet above the ground, and designed to move with the precision of the smallest watch. It looked exactly how George had first imagined it back as a boy in his ranch in Nevada.

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel offers a fascinating look at a man’s ambitious project that changed the world. It was a delight reading the book because not only did Kathryn Gibbs Davis narrate what happened in 1893, she also offered historical facts and presented it alongside her narrative. Quote sources and websites were listed on the back for anyone interested to find out more about the dazzling ride. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel is a nod to the engineering profession and also celebrates wild and world-changing ideas.

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