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The Great Wheel

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  781 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Your fortune lies to the west. Keep your face to the sunset . . . and one day you’ll ride the greatest wheel in all the world.” When Aunt Honora reads this fortune in his tea leaves, Conn Kilroy knows he is destined for greater things than his small Irish village can offer. A letter from his uncle Michael in America offering Conn a partnership in his New York contracting c ...more
Published (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,315)
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Julie
I really enjoyed it. Loved learning so much about the design and engineering of the ferris wheel. Also about irish immigrants, mr. Ferris, and the chicago world's fair. Loved the way the author wrapped it up too, but won't say more so as not to ruin the book for someone else.
Christopher Bunn
Robert Lawson is a superb children's writer, responsible for books such as Smeller Martin, Ben and Me, and Rabbit Hill. He's consistently good. The Great Wheel does not deviate from his high standards. It follows the story of a young Irish immigrant who comes to America and ends up working on the construction of the world's first Ferris Wheel at the World Expo in Chicago.

Part coming-of-age, part romance, delightfully humorous and full of colorful, finely crafted characters, this book is a keeper
...more
Laura
I thought that this story would be from the perspective of an attendee of the 1893 Chicago World Fair. Instead, it tells the story of one of the men who helped build the Great Ferris Wheel!

The Story.

Cornelius Terence Kilroy has never dreamed of going west – but the west is calling his name! His Uncle Michael has offered for Conn to cross the Atlantic Sea, leaving his home in Ireland to live and work in New York City.

Conn agrees and the next day begins his journey to New York City. He enjoys his
...more
Alicia
This fun book from 1957 is about an Irish immigrant who comes to America and helps build the giant Ferris wheel for the 1893 world's fair. This is my favorite type of read aloud: we enjoy the story, learn some history, learn about amazing people who were not afraid to try the "impossible", and follow an innocent romance. It's amazing what men could accomplish back then without all of our bulldozers and modern technology. This was Robert Lawson's last book, and it was named a 1958 Newbery Honor a ...more
Beth
The Great Wheel is the story of Conn, who helps build the world's first Ferris Wheel. It's also the story of his family, friends, and fellow immigrants, and each character is distinctive, colorful, and lovingly drawn. Take his Uncle Patrick, who assures Mr. Ferris that for every 1/16 of an inch wrong in the measurements, that amount should be sliced off his nose. Or Martin Brennan, master rigger, who jumps aboard the derrick raising the largest piece of steel ever forged - the size of which was ...more
Lisa
I picked this up totally on a whim because it was sitting on an endcap, and had that bright, shiny Newbery seal on the cover. It was a new version with a celebrity foreward by Richard Peck, and I didn't realize until I cracked the cover that it was actually written in about 1950. I found it pleasant enough, but without much of a hook. It's the story of an Irish boy of about 18, circa 1900, who goes to America to seek his fortune, first working with his uncle laying sewers in New York, then recru ...more
Ginger
We read this book together as family. The story quickly engaged all of us and held us to the very end. A great story about finding your destiny, your life passions, and the risks you have to take to do so. Plus, the historical aspect was an added bonus. Highly recommend it.
Story Revolution
Your fortune lies to the west. Keep your face to the sunset . . . and one day you’ll ride the greatest wheel in all the world.” When Aunt Honora reads this fortune in his tea leaves, Conn Kilroy knows he is destined for greater things than his small Irish village can offer. A letter from his uncle Michael in America offering Conn a partnership in his New York contracting company sets Conn on his western adventure. Just a few short months later Conn’s Uncle Patrick lures him even farther west to ...more
Mckinley
Interesting blend of immigrants, building with steel, learning a trade, and romance. Got better after a chapter or two.

See: Devil in the White City by Larson (non-fiction) which covers some of the politics and construction of the Ferris wheel and picture book, Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Davis.
Heather Neroy
Fourth grade read aloud. My 4th grader, kindergartener & I all LOVED this story!!! LOVED it. A wonderful re telling of the building of first Ferris wheel, with a personal telling of immigrants and falling in love. This book was fantastic.
Andree
Findings confidential. Check back at a later date.
Susan
I think this is supposed to be a children's book. It's on reading level 5, but there were many engineering words in it that I didn't know, so I'm wondering if a 4th or 5th grader would understand.

This book is about a young man who comes to America from Ireland and ends up helping to build the world's first ferris wheel.

I really liked learning the history of the ferris wheel. I liked the first part of the book and the last part, but I got kind of bogged down in the middle where it told a day-by-d
...more
Scott Williams
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Jess
I read this book for the YA/MG Book Battle. Original piece can be found here.
Brittney
Good. Slow but interesting
Jill
Not terribly impressed. The author throws around engineering vocabulary when explaining the building of the Ferris wheel without explaining the meaning or function of those parts. And I didn't find it interesting enough to want to learn the meanings. Granted, I read this on the heels of several Newbery Honors by Holling C. Holling, who is peerless in his explanations and illustrations of machinery, among other things. Still, there was nothing particularly gripping about the story or characters.
Lorena
Feb 09, 2009 Lorena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorena by: Sunlight
Shelves: for-gabriella
This was a good book it's the story of a worker who contributed to the building of the first Ferris Wheel, we got to know a little bit of Mr. Ferris and the way the working conditions were at the time. I loved that the story is voiced by a young immigrant who pushes the bounderies and finds happiness in a new country.

This was a great to round the units we are doing on the years post civil war, the go-getters and the foundation of America as we see it today.
Jill
Not awful, but gets bogged down at times in the technical details of building the world's largest Ferris wheel. Interesting historical information, plus it let me break out my Irish accent (curtesy of the Lucky Charms leprechaun ).
Kayla
I read this for my practicum class this semester with my group of fifth grade readers. We definitely made the most of it but I felt like it wasn't necessarily a clear book for students to understand reading concepts and we did a lot of locating places on the map with it... they definitely learned some locations of places! My students were really interested with the fact it was a real event. Overall, it was an okay book...
Thomas Bell
Pretty good book. The story of the building of the first Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair was really good. The story of a boy traveling to the United States on a prophecy and a dream and then working hard for that dream was good. The story of falling in love with a beautiful german woman he met once as a boy and then saw her again as a rich girl and married her was not really that good.
Erin
fascinating bit of history...
Katie
OH. A lot of details were lost on me along the way, but the end of this made me SO HAPPY.
Katherine
Our library had this book shelved in the Young Adult section, but I can't figure out why. It is the story of the building of the first Ferris Wheel. It was historically interesting, but a little dull at times. I especially liked the immigration aspect at the turn of the century. I'm planning on having Calvin (12) read this during the next school year.
Jordan


This book is easy and fun to read. I read it aloud to my two elementary-age kids. The characters are entertaining and we laughed through many parts. Robert Lawson's detailed and brilliant illustrations add greatly to the story.
We enjoyed it from beginning to end.
Rosieontheroad
Fictional biography of the Ferris Wheel. George Washington Ferris was actually a bridge builder who used his structural engineering know-how to invent and build the first Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World Fair. It was 250 ft. in diameter, and each car held 36 people!
Lisa
Mar 30, 2010 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Sonlight Curriculum
This is a fun, light, historical fiction book about a fictitional Irish immigrant, Conn, and the building of the famous first Ferris Wheel at the Chicago World Exposition in 1893. Full of hope and youthful optimism, humor and of course, a happy ending.
Kate
Read this book with my kids as part of our Sonlight Homeschooling Curriculum, and we all really enjoyed it. One of my favorites from the 4th grade books, actually. Would highly recommend it!

Joanna
This is a really good book. It's about a young man who comes to America to help build the Great Wheel, which was to be the showpiece of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. I like how this book reads. :)
Melissa
A wonderful story about how the first Ferris wheel came to be. I loved the character Conn, who brought another side of history to the story, the life of an immigrant. Great read aloud book!
the Reeds
I felt the details of the building of the Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair were far more interesting than the side story of Conn Kilroy.
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Born in New York City, Lawson spent his early life in Montclair, New Jersey. Following high school, he studied art for three years under illustrator Howard Giles (an advocate of dynamic symmetry as conceived by Jay Hambidge) at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now Parsons School of Design), marrying fellow artist and illustrator Marie Abrams in 1922. His career as an illustrator began ...more
More about Robert Lawson...
Rabbit Hill (Puffin Modern Classics) Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere,Esq. as Revealed by his Horse They Were Strong and Good The Tough Winter

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