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Wheel on the School, The Hardcover – October 20, 1954

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-This 1955 Newbery Award-winner by Meindert Dejojng, set in a small Dutch fishing village, tells the story of a young girl and her simple composition about the storks that build their nests in neighboring villages. When the children wonder why the storks don't nest in their village, the stage is set for a dramatic challenge against all odds.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

". . . a happy story, written with the freshness and beauty and understanding of youngsters that make this author's stories unforgettable." -- -- Saturday Review

"Once more Mr. Dejong has written, with literary skill, a heartfelt story." -- -- Commonweal

"The whole thing trembles with impatience and anxiety." -- -- The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Hardcover: 298 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl (October 20, 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060215852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060215859
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,761,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 83 people found the following review helpful By T. Avallone on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ok I'll admit I was very skeptical. The premise does seem a bit dry. School children band together to find a wheel to put on their school and attract storks....I was not excited by the prospect. Thank goodness I decided to read it aloud to my children anyway! Some parts of this book are so exciting and suspenseful that I literally had sweaty palms during the reading.
And just because it is a rousing good tale doesn't mean that there aren't some wonderful life lessons to be learned by it as well. Perserverance. Friendship. And the reality the EVERYONE has something to offer to common good. This is a timeless story with appeal to all ages. Grown-ups will enjoy reading this aloud as much as their children will enjoy hearing it. I confess....I read to the end because I couldn't wait for the next read-aloud session.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is so much more than the story of a group of school children trying to bring storks to their Dutch fishing village on the North Sea. It is a story of people - people everywhere. It is a story of how important people are, irregardless of their age, physical condition, or how they make a living. It encourages us to go beyond what we see on the surface. It shows us that when we help others and care about others, good things will come to us. The children originally wanted to lure storks to their little village because the storks were said to bring good luck. Little did they know that storks would send good fortune ahead in the form of new-found friendships, help for others, and a community that came closer together than it had been before. Miendert DeJong does a masterful job of telling the story and providing strategically planted links as the events take place and unfold. I am an elementary teacher in Cabarrus County, NC. I have read this book to my children each year for many years. When I ask my new class if anyone has heard of the book, no one raises a hand. By the time we finish, the children feel like they have been right there with Lina and the boys. They have also grown to realize that Janus was far from being the mean old man that they met at the beginning. They realize that he just needed to be needed. Each time I read the book, I see more and I learn more. Don't read this story just once. You will be walking over a hidden treasure.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What a thrill it was to "find" this book. I bought it originally on an endorsement from the Chinaberry catalog. Neither the cover nor the title was particularly catchy. It sat on my teacher shelf for a couple of months...and then one rainy day at indoor recess we began reading. The basic story is of a small group of schoolchildren in Holland and their communal efforts to bring storks back to nest on the rooftops of their village. In the process of achieving this dream the story is an intergenerational tale of love and friendship. Finding help and providence in the places you might least expect them. It touched my young listeners deeply. We built a model of the village in our classroom. We compared people in our own lives to the characters in the story and gained new insights. One last strong endorsement...I had my students rank their top three book choices so far this year. The Wheel On The School came out as #1, and yes, Harry Potter was one of the contestants.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Susan Byers VINE VOICE on February 6, 2000
Format: Library Binding
"I think it was incredibly exciting, mostly the whole time." The previous two quotes are from my 7 year old son; his 10 year old brother and I heartily agree. We all got very emotionally involved with the characters, primarily a group of Dutch schoolchildren who were as interesting as children are everywhere who think for themselves. The several prominent adults in the book are finely drawn as well; not flawless, but each living their lives heartily and with conviction. I loved Old Douwa, the 92 year old whose past clasps the present to form a story within a story. The tale begins with one child's question: why are there no storks in our village? With a skillful hand, the author weaves in powerful truths about destiny: how asking a question leads to thinking and dreaming; how following your dreams leads to action; how appropriate (not necessarily conventional!) action can change your reality and that of your community. The lives of the good people of Shora (and a neighboring village) become interwoven and enriched because of the force of the dream of the schoolchildren and their teacher. Subtle line drawings by Maurice Sendak enhance the storyline. It's funny, heartwarming, inspiring, gripping, meaningful....what are you waiting for?
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Dunlop on April 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this book when I was in fourth grade or thereabouts, quite by accident in the public library. Because it seemed to be about animals (it is about storks, but it's about people even more), I took it home. And it became one of three or four books that I reread every year or two thereafter. I've read it at least three times since I finally bought my own copy as an adult.
Why is it so enchanting? I realized last night as I reread it yet again that The Wheel on the School says effectively in a story what most of today's children's books try to say in cliches and lectures: You are special, and people who are different from you are special too. Why is the message and the book effective? Because each person in the town realizes he or she, or the others in the town, is an important part of the town as the person actually contributes to it. No one is sitting around discussing self-esteem, but, for example, the town's fat boy, who usually gets left out of games, discovers he is strong, and the town's grumpy cripple becomes a leader, as they take part in what has become the town's mission--to bring storks to Shora. The old people emerge with stories and with memories of their own childhood longings and feats, and the adults and children work together. The book represents adults the way children see them (mysterious, sometimes scary, sometimes annoying, but protective, stronger, and wiser than the children), not with today's irreverence or irrelevance and not in a way where they take over the book or the children's project.
The book was a balm to me as a kid, the child who was left out of everything, and who discovered in real life, with Lina, that sometimes old ladies make good friends when children don't. And now as an adult with friends ranging from children to old ladies, I still find the book warm and almost magical.
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