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4.8 out of 5 stars
Roller Coaster
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I think I've finally pinpointed what it is about Marla Frazee I like so very much. It isn't her choice of stories necessarily (though after reading through her "New Baby Train" I know she has excellent taste). It's her people. Somehow or other she managed to give every tiny person in her books a distinct and completely original personality. I can't figure out how she does it either. The ultimate example of this has to be her fantastic 2003 creation, "Roller Coaster". Taking a concept so simple that I'm wondering why thousands of other authors hadn't thought of it first, Frazee walks us through the process of riding a roller coaster. From the first moments of anticipation to the final plunge and disembarking, our author/illustrator has taken a simple concept and turned it into picture book gold. Whether you've a kid fascinated by roller coasters, deeply afraid of them, or has never even HEARD of such contraptions in all their days, "Roller Coaster" is designed to delight and amuse.

A long line of people appears at a fairground. Ahead of them is a roller coaster named, "Rocket". As the line gets closer to the front, "Lots of people change their mind about riding the roller coaster at the very last minute". At long last, twelve lucky people climb into the cars. Some of them are excited while others appear calm and collected. Suddenly we're watching the people on the ride as they experience a simple variety of twists, turns, and loop-dee-loops. The passengers (each pair has their own particular story) deal with the roller coaster in a variety of different ways. The tough guys feel ill. The couple who appear to be on a first date snuggle closer as the ride goes on. The elderly couple in the straw hats adore every wild minute. And the little girl in the front becomes a roller coaster enthusiast by the end. The ride is done. The people get out. And the little girl insists on riding the coaster one more time.

The way Frazee sets up the book, the reader is bound to sympathize the most with the little girl who is riding a roller coaster for the very first time. It's wonderful to read through this book several times and catch the consistently interesting details that progress as the ride does. It took me several readings before I realized that the couple on the first date weren't all snuggly at the beginning. And there's a great moment where a woman, traveling with her son on the coaster, adjusts her hair carefully at the start only to end up with a slightly modified afro by the end. The tough guy who opts out of the line (and is derided by his buddies for doing so) stands over his two nauseous friends at the end of the book. Heck, even the tiny woman reading a red book at the very very first page is visible looking at the tough guys with concern at the book's end. Only fellow picture book illustrator Anno could be said to offer us quite as many tiny details. I love the sheer number of interracial couples in this book, by the way. Leave to Ms. Frazee to give us casual diversity where other illustrators would offer us none.

So let's recap. The story is fun, the illustrations whiz-bang (for lack of a better word), and the book a joy. Frazee even appears to include her own inside jokes in the story. Though I have no just cause to believe this, I am completely convinced that Marla Frazee inserted her husband and three sons on the first two-page spread of the book. There's something about the man's goatee that just struck me as a little too... knowing. Not that I have any evidence to back this theory up with, of course. But that's what's so nice about "Roller Coaster". Even when you've read it twenty times over, there's always something new to look at and enjoy. Great for kids, irregardless of their reading ability.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My 4-year-old LOVES this book! It captures perfectly the trepidation, anticipation, excitement, chills and thrills of riding the roller coaster. The build-up of the story and the illustrations (especially the old couple in the second seat of the coaster) are fantastic! A great summer read, particularly if you're anticipating a trip to the amusement park.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My husband designs roller coasters, and I wanted to get a book for our son who, someday, is going to be riding them! (He's 7 weeks old today :) This is a great book for kids who may be a little scared of roller coasters, and who need to know exactly what happens from waiting in line to getting back in line after the ride is over! Easy read and great pictures!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
My boys (ages 5 and 3) love the story about riding a roller coaster. The pages showing the whole roller coaster ride are their favorite ones. They love to trace the coaster's path with their finger. When we read the story they act like they are really on the coaster taking the turns and loops with the people on the pages.

Beautiful artwork and colors. Pages could be framed art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
As a teacher I am always looking for examples of great writing to show my students. I got this book originally for my son, but plan on using it in the class for sure. It is the perfect example of great descriptive writing. Instead of just saying, "I waited in line for the roller coaster. The ride was fun and scary. I can't wait to do it again," this is a book filled with wonderful visualizations and language that takes the reader ON the coaster with you. I currently teach 2nd, but taught 5th for years, and would use this for any grade.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I borrowed this book from the library to prepare my kids for a trip to the amusement park It has become my 3 year old's favorite book, so I am buying it! The story describes the 'roller coaster experience' perfectly and the illustrations are excellent with many fun details to talk about with your child. This is a delightful children's book - not too saccharin or silly - definitely worth buying and at a great price too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Good mentor text for writing instruction and modeling writing traits such as rising action in a plot, leads, and sound effects. My students liked it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In picture books recommended for ages 3-7, I firmly believe a book's primary goal should be to instill a love for reading through enjoyment/entertainment. In my opinon Marla Frazee has met or exceeded that goal in Roller Coaster. What a superb book! The text is simple but effective and excellent at following the pictures. But its the illustrations that carry the story---absolutely some of the best drawn people I've seen since Robert McCloskey's (Blueberries for Sal, Homer Price, Junket, Make Way for Ducklings). Marla created her coaster riders with such gentle humor; to watch the faces on these individuals as they stand in line, ride the coaster and then get off is pure fun. Like the little girl at the end of the book who gets off and runs to get back in line to ride again, I found myself going back to the first page as soon as I'd finished the last one. This is a book to enjoy over and over-- with a child or with your "inner child".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2015
Format: Paperback
In my opinion this book is a great read for any reader. The first reason this is a great read is because of the little girl. I feel just like her when I ride a gentle roller coaster. Next, the illustrations and onomatopoeias made me feel like I was on a roller coaster. The last reason I liked the book was because I think it may encourage anyone to be a risk taker. I think everyone that likes fun should read Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.
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on November 13, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
We LOVE this book! My first grader recently had his first real roller coaster experiences: first one that wasn't too scary or fast, but he LOVED, and second, a huge wooden coaster that was too fast and too bumpy for him. We ordered this book based off of some of the "you may like this also" recommendations Amazon makes, after reading several of the reviews.

This is a perfect book for this age group. Just as a story, it's very fun, engaging, and imaginative. The illustrations are fantastic and I love the amount of detail that is put in to help convey the individual emotions and actions the story describes. From a learning/teaching standpoint, we also ordered a copy of this book for my son's classroom. The story takes a relatively simple concept and brings it to life, without being totally overwhelming. This is a great learning tool- the story is short and sweet (I was worried it would be very wordy because people said it's so descriptive and helps kids learn to expand their ideas into a full story), but the vocabulary brings it to life. Also, the text sprawling across, around, and all over the pages really helps bring these words to life! My 3-year old really enjoys it, as well as a couple of my son's older friends who read it with us.

I'm so glad we bought this for ourselves and for my son's teacher!
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