Wells, R. (2002). Wingwalkers. New York: Hyperion Books For Children.
Lead Comments:This book shows the devastation of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression without being harsh and scary. There are funny moments, but you still get a feel for how difficult life was in the 1930's. This book demonstrates tolerance of people's differences and how people are just the same inside. I like how the ending leaves you wondering what Reuben's family will do next, but with the feeling that things will be okay.
Reuben is a carefree second grader living in rural Oklahoma with his mother, a caf cook, and his father, a dance instructor, when the Depression and Dust Bowl end the family's stable, quiet way of life. ...the boy's father takes a job as an airplane wingwalker in a Minnesota traveling carnival. Reuben's retelling of the dramatic events is subtle and matter-of-fact, filled with the small, everyday details that color memories and help readers to see life through his eyes. Filled with muted earth tones and hinting of folk art, Selznick's striking, bordered paintings create an evocative portrait of the era, and aptly complement the quality text. An engaging story, and a well-crafted, thoroughly enjoyable book.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. (Retrieved November 6, 2009 from BarnesandNoble.com)
This big-hearted, Depression-era, American fairy tale seems to come alive out of a former generation like a well-worn family yarn. Reuben's perfect childhood in Oklahoma disintegrates with the arrival of the Dust Bowl that deprives his parents of their jobs. This presents his father, a teacher of ballroom dance, with a thrilling opportunity to become a "wingwalker" with a traveling county fair, an opportunity that his wife strongly opposes. Physically small, Reuben himself has a reputation for being a bit of a sissy whose nickname is "shrimp-boats." He can barely stand to watch his father execute his ballroom steps on the plane wing, let alone think of accompanying him. But the folks of the fair take Reuben to their hearts and give him encouragement. Wells's prose is spare but has both richness and freshness of simile and image, e.g., "a drilling rig pumping away like a big iron grasshopper." ...[Selznick's] paintings are full of sky, airplanes, and upward-looking faces. (Retrieved November 6, 2009, from BarnesandNoble.com)