Hope is a Ferris Wheel
Author: Robin Herrera
Publication Date: March 11th, 2014
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: 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.
What I Think: Moving to a new town, finding friends, fitting in...it's just not easy. I do believe finding some solace in reading a book that you can identify with in some way helps though. I can think of the exact student I would have handed this book to three years ago. She was new to the school, she was a sweet girl and desperately wanted friends but she was a little quirky. The kind of quirky that is easier for adults to understand but not always as accepted by same-age peers. I think that student would have enjoyed Hope is a Ferris Wheel. I also think other kids would identify with this story though, too because at some point in our lives, I think we all feel like we're trying to find ourselves and figure out where we fit in.
This is definitely a book that I think can ladder up or ladder down depending on the student. I totally just made up the idea of laddering up or down but the concept comes from Teri Lesesne and her reading ladders. This book seems like a book I might recommend to a sixth grader but also one I would share with a middle grader depending on the reader. It's kind of a book that bridges between middle grade and young YA.
As a mentor text, I pulled a couple quotes where the main character is comparing hope to a Ferris wheel using a metaphor. Hope is such an abstract concept and a feeling that can be wonderful and suffocating at the same time. I imagine sharing these ideas from the book would inspire some great thinking around what it means to hope and dream and whether it's worth believing in. I imagine this discussion might ignite some very powerful personal narratives in any age level student.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 7
Read With: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Miss Emily by Burleigh Muten, The Naked Mole Rat Letters by Mary Amato, Wonder by RJ Palacio, The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
Snatch of Text:
"I took out my notebook and opened it to a fresh page to write, Hope is a Ferris wheel. It was supposed to be the start of another Emily Dickinson-style poem, like my Winter poem, but after a few minutes of tapping my eraser on the desk, I gave up trying to think of what the next line was and just wrote, It spins and spins and spins." (p. 113-114)
"Maybe hope is a Gravitron. It looks fun at first - until you're inside, and it's spinning so fast, your head pounds. Then the ride ends, and you vomit. And when you get off the ride, you can't even walk because you're so dizzy, and nothing looks right anymore." (p. 153)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you felt hopeful. What did it feel like? Can you describe it with a metaphor?
Topics Covered: Family, Love, Siblings, Friendship, Fitting In, Determination, Courage
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