Zach and his grandpa love all of the same things . . . except the roller coaster. His grandpa once rode it one hundred times! But Zach doesn't like the roller coaster. So when Grandpa goes on it every summer, Zach goes on the Big wheel with Grandma. She understands. But one summer, Grandma is gone and Grandpa is not the same. ...
Zach and his grandpa love all of the same things . . . except the roller coaster. His grandpa once rode it one hundred times! But Zach doesn't like the roller coaster. So when Grandpa goes on it every summer, Zach goes on the Big wheel with Grandma. She understands. But one summer, Grandma is gone and Grandpa is not the same. He misses her terribly. So does Zach.
But he also wants his grandpa to be happy again. What will it take? Maybe a ride on the roller coaster? Heart-warming and uplifting, here is a story for every family that loves and cares for one another.
“When the time is right, you’ll face your fear,” Zach’s grandmother tells him as they ride the Ferris wheel after he refuses to ride the Whipper roller coaster with Grandpa. Rodman’s (Camp K-9) moving story of grief and intergenerational ties then skips ahead a year; “everything’s different. Grandma’s gone. Forever.” Hoping to cheer up Grandpa, Zach suggests they ride the Whipper. “I’m facing my fear, but I sure don’t feel brave,” thinks Zach, who is angry afterward when his grandfather doesn’t praise him—as Grandma would have—for braving the ride. In a candid conversation, the two confide for the first time that they miss Grandma, resulting in a breakthrough in their relationship. Rodman gives the story just the right measure of emotion (“Grandpa smiles. Not like he used to, but a smile all the same”), while underlining the importance of mourning and communication. Well-tuned to the narrative, Roth’s (Star of the Week) detailed and delicately drafted watercolors capture the nostalgic aura of the seaside amusement park, Zach’s ricocheting emotions, and his deep bond with both grandparents. Ages 4–up. Illustrator’s agent: Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (July)
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Zach has looked forward every year to visiting his grandparents at Oceanside. And every year, as he tells us, he has waited in line to ride the Whipper, the giant roller coaster, but he is still afraid to ride it. His grandfather, who was famous at his age for riding the Whipper one hundred times in a row, is disappointed, as is Zach. He and his grandmother have enjoyed doing other things together. But when the family arrives the next summer, Grandma has died. Zach feels that nothing is the same, including Grandpa. Zach decides that maybe riding the Whipper with him will make Grandpa feel better. This time, Zach faces his fear and bravely gets on. Up and down they go. At the end, Zach and his Grandpa make peace with each other. In detailed, naturalistic double-page spreads, Roth depicts the range of attractions at the amusement park and the range of folks enjoying them. Even on the panoramic end pages and from the top of the Ferris wheel, the Whipper appears a bit frightening. Vignettes of Zach finally "having a ball" add emotional appeal. The story does a fine job of opening discussion on both the loss of a family member and fear. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Pleasant pencil-and-watercolor illustrations contribute a comforting aesthetic to this well-intentioned tale of a boy who yearns to cheer up his roller-coaster-loving grandfather after the death of his beloved grandmother. Facing his fear of roller coasters in the hopes that a spin on the Whipper will tug Grandpa out of his blue mood, the boy discovers that admitting to his feeling of loss and discussing his grandmother helps them both more than any ride-induced adrenaline rush. A few of the images capture the thrill and sense of movement that should fill a book set in a seaside amusement park, but most of the agreeable and charmingly detailed illustrations feel sweetly static. Rodman manages a light touch while conveying a valuable message about expressing emotion and coping with grief. Neither the text nor the illustrations bring the story hurtling off the page, but the words and the visuals exude a gentle nostalgia that accomplishes an approachable look at death and sadness.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY
Life can be like a roller coaster. Grandpa loves roller coasters and was known as "The Rollercoaster Kid" as a boy, while Zach prefers to ride the Ferris wheel with Grandma, in part because coasters scare him. Zach knows he'll get over it though; as Grandma says, "When the time is right, you'll face your fear." Relaxed, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations depict the beach town where the extended family summers and show Zach and his grandparents enjoying the amusement park and seaside. Unfortunately, by the next year, Grandma has died, and though the whole family misses her terribly, nobody mentions her for fear of making Grandpa even sadder. In an effort to help Grandpa feel better, Zach decides to face his fears and take Grandpa for a ride on the roller coaster, but when Grandpa doesn't praise him as Grandma would have, it makes Zach blurt out how much he misses her. Is this a mistake? Presented with warmth, sensitivity and a light touch, this story demonstrates the human need for sharing and support after a death, whatever one's age, and emphasizes the need for communication and comfort. This gentle book provides a good starting point for conversations about death and how people react to it. (Picture book. 4-7)