The invention of the Ferris wheel is explored in story and pictures designed to describe the age of innovation for young readers.
The legendary Ferris wheel was one of myriad inventions that came out of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. was a mechanical engineer who was determined to outdo the star of the previous World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower. To Ferris, engineering and innovation were part of the American nature, and he set out to prove it by designing a structure that would amaze fairgoers. Working with his engineering partner, Ferris turned his vision into plans but had difficulty convincing officials until they found themselves without a star attraction months before the fair was to open. They agreed to his plan but provided no financing. Ferris was relentless in his efforts to bring his wheel to fruition, and it became one of the fair’s most popular attractions. This straightforward narrative for younger readers provides a good sense of the period of innovation and the type of personal drive it took to bring ideas to reality. Additional pertinent facts that support the story appear in sidebars. The slightly retro, line-and-color illustrations, done in an unexpected, muted palette, enhance the text and provide additional interest.
Kids who take Ferris wheels for granted should find this history eye-opening. (sources, bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 5-8)