Title: The Wheel on the School
Author: Meindert DeJong
Major Themes: Storks, Birds, Holland, Families
Synopsis: There have been no storks in the little town of Shora for years. When the six school students catch a vision of bringing storks back, will they be able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task?
The Wheel on the School has to be one of Mom’s most favorite books. And that says something, because she’s read thousands over her lifetime. She’s always delighted when she can read it again to us, and we never tire of hearing the story, either.
“What do you know about storks?”
One day, Lina brings an essay she wrote about storks to the six-student school of Shora. After reading it aloud, the class discuss storks—and they all realize that they know hardly anything about the birds, because there has never been a pair of storks in Shora that they can remember.
The class soon decide that they need storks to come to Shora. In order to do that, they have to find a wheel for the storks to build their nest on. Where can they find a wheel? All the wheels they’ve ever seen are in use, and are worth much more than just being stuck on a roof! Will they be able to find a wheel in time, before all the storks have found other resting places? Will the grownups understand their need to bring storks back to Shora?
Meindert DeJong did an impressive job with The Wheel on the School. The story is very believable, and it’s easy to imagine living alongside the families of Shora. Humorous at times, you soon find yourself rooting for the six students as they scour the countryside trying to find an old wheel that will work. We follow the children to Janus’s house, where he lives as a grumpy old man that hates everyone—and isn’t afraid to throw stones at anyone who ventures inside. We also meet the noisy tin man, and Grandmother Sibble III, along with the many other interesting and diverse residents of Shora. Overall, this is a brilliantly written story, one that the whole family will love.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12