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Hope Is a Ferris Wheel
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Hope Is a Ferris Wheel

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,414 ratings  ·  277 reviews
Ten-year-old Star Mackie lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom Star idolizes. Moving to a new town has made it difficult for Star to make friends, when her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. But when Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, th ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 11th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,414 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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Deborah Markus
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a review copy I won in a GR giveaway.

I was worried this book would be too cutesy for my taste. When a ten-year-old girl says, "Heavenly Donuts!" I'm going to assume she's making a reference to the local snack shop. When I find out that's what passes for swearing in her family, I'm going to nerd-out and mutter about capitalizing that "D."

But then I'm going to get over myself and enjoy a sweet, funny story. And I'm going to give the author extra credit for refusing to buy into the stereoty
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I may have enjoyed this book when I was younger, but... it was just a meh for me. It's the first Middle Grade book I've read in a long time. In elementary school, I was apart of The Hellen Ruffin Reading Bowl. Many of the books on the lists each year are award-winning and great books, so when this one landed the list a year or two ago, I knew I should read it. The main character was ten and adorable, but frankly, she got on my nerves. I hated the ending. I get that it was a "left up ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
I had my teacher hat on when writing this :)

Heavenly Donuts! What a great book! This was a funny, cute, sad, and thoughtful read. I loved the main character, Star Mackie :)

Summary (some spoilers):
Star, a 10 year old girl, lives in a trailer park called Treasure Trailers. She does not have any friends, and is teased due to her "mullet-like" haircut. Our quirky narrator is very lonely due to her lack of friends, an absent father, and a confusing relationship with her sister. Gradually, through he
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog
Four and a half stars, rounded up.


Star Mackie is a spunky young fifth grader with blue hair from the trailer park. She lives with her mom and her older sister Winter, a writer that Star adores. This adoration, mixed with the hardships of making new friends when you're the new girl, inspires Star to start a new club at school when she falls in love with the poems of Emily Dickinson. Over the course of her shaping the Emily Dickinson club, Star learns how to be herself, no matter how different
Jen Malone
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEELL is the story of Star, a fifth-grader struggling to fit in with her new classmates after a move from Oregon to California, despite the fact that they tease her mercilessly over her trailer park address. This is a book of layers, from Star's mullet haircut (which she insists is only a bad layered cut), to the surprising depth of the school bully, the reasons behind her sister's sudden moodiness, and her mother's misguided parenting strategies. It's one of those novels teach ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, arc
I can't remember the last book I read that made me feel so much. Incredible. Review to come!

Edited 3/12/14:

Weeks have passed since I finished reading an advance copy of HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL, and I just can't get it out of my head. Star, with her love of Emily Dickinson and yearning to make a true friend, is the heart and soul of the novel, but terrific supporting characters (particularly Star's punk older sister Winter) also help the story feel incredibly real.

I need to give a shout-out to th
Nancy Kotkin
Star's family just moved and she needs some friends, so she starts a club at school. Star comes off as a bit too naive, even for a 10-yr-old fifth grader. Her friendship dilemma is solved by the end of the book but two other important plot lines (Star's possible relationship with her father and her sister Winter's situation) are left unresolved. For this reason, this middle grade novel feels incomplete and not entirely satisfying to me.

Strong tie-ins to both social studies and language arts. Rea
Courtney Umlauf
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
"Hope" is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops - at all-

Star lives with her Mom and older sister, Winter, in a trailer park in northern California. Where they used lived in Oregon, it wasn't weird to live in a trailer. Star finds out the hard way that telling everyone she lives in a trailer park isn't going to make her a lot of friends in her new school. But Star doesn't give up. She starts an after school club to meet people,
Mary Sanchez
Star Mackie is ten-years-old, recently moved from Oregon to northern California because her teen-aged sister, Winter, has to go to a "delinquent" school after getting expelled for starting a very different writing club. Star, Winter, their single mom, and mom's best friend Gloria, all live in a trailer park and the kids in Star's class make fun of that and also Star's blue hair, styled in a botched layer cut by Gloria that looks like a mullet.

Star is a resilient girl and and decides to start a
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dear Robin,

Robyn here. I too desire to be a cat lady someday, but my husband refuses to succumb to the joys and shenanigans of living with a minion of cats. Luckily my parents are experts and I can visit them any time.

Thank you for writing Hope is a Ferris Wheel. Star is a character I could connect with since I grew up in a trailer house too and experienced firsthand the stigmas that come with it. I did not have a mullet, and even if I did I would never admit it. Thank you for bringing to life
Carrie Gelson
I was quite charmed by this story. And oh so happy that it was written. So many of my students are impacted by poverty in so many ways. In our community, it is just the norm. So there isn't a lot of judgement. But I remember once one of my students was going to move to a community where low income didn't define the community in general. She was bright and spunky and didn't miss a thing. I knew she was going to be okay but I worried about the getting there to that place of okay. In this book, Sta ...more
Kaitlyn Curry
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cheryl McDonald-Tuckwell
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book for young people aged 12 / 13 +. Has themes of relationships and teen pregnancy but what I took from the book was the main focus being on the complexities of friendship, differences in life circumstances and coming together with a common interest.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a ten-year-old girl named Star Mackie that lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, who Star looks up to. her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. They would laugh at her when the kids at school would see Star walking by. When Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, through Dickinson’s poetry. She learns some important lessons about herself and comes to te ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Ten-year-old fifth-grader Star Mackie has just moved into a California trailer park (right beside the dump) from Oregon with her mom and sister. The move has made it hard for her to make new friends, because her classmates tease her about her home and her "layered" dyed blue haircut. In order to help combat this Star decides to start up a new club, the first iteration is about trailer parks and then it morphs into a club dedicated to her newfound love of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Through this po ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Robin Herrera’s Hope is a Ferris Wheel is a profoundly honest, sometimes starkly so, yet inspiring and hopeful coming of age story about one girl’s search for acceptance and truth. Real and immensely moving, with a wonderful heroine, Hope is a Ferris Wheel is such a lovely, memorable middle-grade contemp.

Ten year old Star Mackie has just moved to a new town with her mother, older sister Winter, and her mom’s best friend Gloria. Made fun of at school for living in a trailer park and for her layer
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Olivia Santos
Core Reading
Summer Reading
Hope is A Ferris Wheel

I read the book Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera. It is a realistic fiction book about Hope, a 10 year old girl from Oregon, who just moved to California and lives in a trailer park with her sister and her mom. Hope has to adjust to her new life in California, while also trying to find her father and organizing a club at school to get friends. With some unexpected twists and turns throughout the book, you won't be able to put
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
10 year old Star so reminds me of one of my relatives who wore her hair spiky and loved wearing an army jacket and combat boots. But, unlike Star, she wasn't concerned about making friends and fitting in, she forged her own path. I can, however identify with the feelings of looking up to your big sister and everything written felt true to those feelings. Its wonderful how Herrera incorporated poems and metaphors and writing vocabulary words into the story in a way that doesn't come off as an edu ...more
Alyssa Jacobo
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hope is a Ferris Wheel has to be one of my favorite books. Robin Herrera did an amazing job with this book. I love how she wrote it the book just dragged me in, deeper and deeper the more I read. Robin puts the book in such word that you want to keep reading. But when you get to the end you’re sad and re-read it over and over again until you know the whole story by heart. My favorite character is Star (duh, she’s the main character), she has to be my favorite character because the way she acts. ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I went back and forth between giggles, and sad faces while I read Hope Is a Ferris Wheel.

Star will capture your heart with her refreshing naivety (that's a word right?). Then you will feel all sad as she loses it through her hurdles. There are secrets, and you discover right along with Star that everybody caries some sort of baggage and we're usually not exactly who we appear to be.

Star had to learn on her own that relationships are complicated. Some people are great at it and others are not and
Rebecca Petruck
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL by Robin Herrera is lovely. I don’t use that word lightly because for some that translates to precious, which is not my thing and not this book. But the descriptive that keeps coming to mind when I think of this book is “lovely,” so I’m letting it ride. Robin’s novel is gentle and kind and a little brutal and true.

Remember that time when you first discovered that what you considered normal was not the norm? I remember it distinctly, in the fifth grade, and it was shocking
Julie Baker
Aug 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
This book was not my cup of tea. The main character, Star (which is a terrible name of which I could not get over its terribleness), is so naive and pretty selfish. I do understand she's 10 years old, but she doesn't stop to think what others think or feel before herself. I honestly do not think she developed, other than the fact that she accepted some crap in her life. I was expecting more from this book, but it just didn't deliver. Also, like The Center of Everything from last year, there was ...more
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-fiction
Star Mackie comes up with an idea to make friends at her school -- a trailer park club. Maybe if kids understood a bit about where she lives, it will be easier to make friends. The small group of misfits who show up are not what she had in mind. Things go sideways when the club decides to discuss Emily Dickinson instead.

HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL is a touching read. Herrera gives Star an honest and memorable voice. The wit and intelligence that Star shows in her vocab words made me smile. And while
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow. Just finished this one and I'm blown away. Robin Herrera sure covers a lot in only 251 pages! The book deals with teen pregnancy, poverty, and family troubles, but don't be turned off, it's not all that serious. For example, people in Star's family are always exclaiming "Heavenly Donuts!" after a donut shop in their old town, and that's the least of all the hilarioussness folded into the pages. Not to outweigh the intensity of the story, the comedy sprinkled in lightens things up when you f ...more
Kay Hommedieu
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book for middle schoolers about a fifth grader who wants to make friends at her new school. In the meantime Star is in detention because she didn’t do her vocabulary assignment correctly.

She also has an older sister Winter who she hangs out with when their mother is not home or with her friend Gloria whom she has known since they were kids. Gloria also lives in the same trailer park that Star and family moved to.
More later-4 stars: 5/18/2019
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I really enjoyed this book. Left me with the same kind of feeling that Counting By Sevens did. Spunky girl character, who remains true to herself despite some teasing and obstacles.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: j, middle-grade
Quite charming this book about a spunky 10-year old girl from the trailer park who writes the best vocabulary sentences, ever.
Alicia Peterson
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
"...the postcard itself wasn't a hope; it was a dream. And dreams need to fly."

Refreshingly real and uplifting.
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The main character has an amazing voice. Great story!
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love who it shows what true love and hope is
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I wrote HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL and love love love reading. I read a lot of comics these days, and less fiction, but I'm trying to get back into the prose world.

Just a quick note: I do not check the notifications here very often! I do add books, especially when I have something to say about them.

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“Hope is a Ferris wheel-
It takes Low and High;
And when you reach the Top,
It’s like you can touch The Sky!
And when it takes you Down-
Hope becomes A Thing
That, When you’re getting Off,
You take With you to Bring.”
More quotes…