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Wingwalker by Rosemary Wells


by Rosemary Wells

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Summary of Book:
Wingwalker by Rosemary Wells is a historic realism children's literature book. This book is about a young boy named Reuben who lives in Amber, Oklahoma during the time of the Dust Bowl. In the beginning of the story, this boy and his family are well-off. However when the dust starts to roll in things change. Amber, Oklahoma was a predominantly white farming community, so when the dust came, crops died and destroyed jobs in the community. After both of the boys parents lose their jobs, they move to Wisconsin because the dad got a job offer to be a wing walker at a traveling fair. Eventually, Reuben's mom finds a job at a local cafe. Reuben teaches the people of the traveling fair how to read and write and they teach him new games and tricks. One day Reuben goes up with his dad in the plane and walks on the wing for the grand finale.

Personal Reaction:
I like this book because it includes both a historical setting and some fiction. Another reason I like it is because it very well likely could have happened that a family effected by the Dust Bowl would move to Wisconsin for an unsure reason.

Classroom Extension:
In my classroom, I would have students get into groups of 4. I would provide supplies for my students to make a life like cardboard airplane. We would then act like we were wing walkers and see how each kid felt by taking that leap of faith. I would then have my students write about a time in their life that they had to take a leap of faith. Just like Reuben, they had to be brave. Just like Reuben's parents, they had to be brave. ( )
  thejennalane | Oct 19, 2016 |
Wingwalker by Rosemary Wells illustrated by Brian Selznick
4 stars
This is an early chapter book about a young boy whose life is changed by the dust bowl and the great depression. To support the family, his father takes a job as a wingwalker with a traveling carnival while his mother cooks for the fair workers. It’s a sweet story about overcoming fears and prejudices. The illustrations are beautiful and accurately depict the times. My only complaint, not enough pictures.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This book is set during the Dust Bowl during the 1930s in America. The story begins in Amber, Oklahoma, a predominately white farmer town and describes the main family of the story as well-off. The dad is a dance teacher and the mom is a chef at a trucker stop. Slowly, conditions change as the dust approaches, killing crops and destroying jobs. After losing both jobs, the family, including a second grader named Reuben, moves to Wisconsin to follow a job offer for the dad as a wing walker at a traveling fair. The mom is hesitant, considering the job is dangerous, but she ends up finding work at a cafe, just like at home. Reuben becomes friends with unlikely people at the fair. He teaches them how to read and write, and in return, they teach him various tricks and games. Reuben finally works up the courage to go up with his dad in the plane and walk out on the wing for the grand finale of the fair.

This is a good book because the author artfully combines text, characters, and illustrations to paint an accurate picture of Dust Bowl time period. It is almost like an informational book disguised as a story because students can learn about the time period through the story. In this way, the setting is a prevalent literary element in this book. In addition, the author develops the main character, making him a dynamic character. In the begining, he is unsure about himself, and moving from his hometown, but in the end, he transforms in a confident young man through the people he meets.

MEDIA: oil paints

GENRE: Historical fiction and early chapter book
This book is a good example of both. It is historical fiction because it is set during the Dust Bowl in America. The language, characters, and setting parallels the actual events of the Dust Bowl, making it easy for readers to imagine what it would be like to live during that time. For example, characters use phrases such as "ain't scared, now?", "pa", and "you're shaking like a preacher at a tent revival" to reflect the historical time period. This is also an early chapter book because the chapters are fairly short and pictures are still included. The illustrations, which are done in oil paints, beautifully convey the landscape of the time period.

(1) I could use this book as a read aloud to introduce the Dust Bowl, or on a unit about things in the past.
(2) After reading this book, students could conduct their own research about the Dust Bowl.

AGE APPROPRIATENESS: Upper elementary ( )
  akgingerich | Mar 18, 2016 |
The book is a touching story of a young boy's growth from babyish insecurity to courageous adolescence. The illustrator, Brain Selznick tells the family's story through muted pastel color paintings that have a dusty overglazed appearance. He does an outstanding job of capturing the thoughts and feelings of the characters, especially Reuben, with very meaningful facial expressions. Overall, the book shows skillful blending of text and artwork. ( )
  gjchauvin504 | Nov 21, 2012 |
Wingwalker is a very interesting book about a family facing hard times during the dustbowl period. The father takes a job as a wingwalker, which is basically someone who walks on the wings of planes to entertain people. The story follows the love and dedication of the family. The mother is terrified of her husbands job but supports him anyways, and young Reuben is terrified of planes. He overcomes his fears to please his father and through this, Reuben gains bravery and determination. ( )
  Amy_Marie | Feb 17, 2011 |
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During the Depression, Reuben and his out-of-work parents move from Oklahoma to Minnesota, where his father gets a job as a carnival wingwalker and Reuben has a chance to overcome his terror of flying.

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