Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wheels of Change” as Want to Read:
Wheels of Change
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wheels of Change

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she's more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by r ...more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Creston Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wheels of Change, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Darlene It is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and through PGW: Here is the ISBN# 978-1-939547-13-2

Thank you for your interest.…more
It is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and through PGW: Here is the ISBN# 978-1-939547-13-2

Thank you for your interest.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  81 ratings  ·  43 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Wheels of Change
Kathy Temean
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wheels of Change is a wonderful, well-written, heartwarming book. I wouldn't be surprised if it won a big children's book award. It take place in Washington DC during 1908, so it is a historical fiction novel and it is filled with vivid details of the time. The main character is Emily Soper who is the twelve year old daughter of a carriage maker is a gusty, quick-thinking young girl. Everything is changing. The industrial revolution has started. Automobiles are replacing the horse and carriage. ...more
Emily Soper's Papa is a carriage maker, the best carriage maker in all of Washington, DC. He makes carriages for important people, like John Philips Sousa and even President Roosevelt! Emily loves spending time in the barn and hopes her father will one day allow her to help build carriages. Beatrice Peabody, the meanest girl in school, boasts about her uncle's automobile and how thanks to Mr. Ford's assembly line, more people can buy them. Beatrice believes Emily's Papa will soon be out of busin ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
WHEELS OF CHANGE For me, time to read fiction has become a luxury—a rare occurrence. When I come across a book that makes that experience all I want it to be—that book is a gift. Such a gift was given me when Darlene Beck Jacobson’s book Wheels of Change made its way into my hands. From the steady “buzz” about this book, I was more than eager to read it, yet life continued getting in the way. A week passed when I finally sat to read more than just a few pages I’d snatched in snippets.

Once I
Katya Szewczuk
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Children ages 8-14 and any lover of Middle Grade and Historical fiction.
Shelves: favorites
Growing up in a time of change and hardship is never easy, especially when you’re young. Twelve-year-old Emily Soper lives in the early 1900s in Washington, D.C, a time when she was expected to be prim and proper and act accordingly. She witnesses racial and gender mayhem as well as a development of technology and tries her hardest to keep up with all of the changes.

Raised by her hard working father, a carriage maker who manages Soper Carriages, and her mother who stays home to care for the chi
Holly Schindler
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love a good historical read, and this one hauled me in from the very beginning. I especially relished the sensory details in the opening pages. I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, and the smaller moments really sparkled in the pages (in one of my favorite scenes, Emily's mother helps her hang a horseshoe for luck). Jacobson smartly juxtaposes the changes in young Emily's personal life (she's slowly leaving behind childhood and making steps toward becoming a young woman) with larger chan ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great cover for a fun book!
Authentic historical details give readers a flavor of a period not often covered in historical fiction for kids, the start of the automobile age. Emily's spunky determination to save her father's business and her easy, comfortable relationship with an African-American blacksmith are endearing. A good read!
Janet Kolodzey
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book! As a former fourth grade teacher and huge historical fiction fan, I highly recommend it for children of this age group and above to read independently, or as a class study. (So many valuable concepts to think about and discuss.) Younger children would also enjoy it as a read aloud.
Tessa Yorks
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though I am not the biggest history buff I felt this novel did a decent job portraying the time period. I do know however it was extremely fictionally based which made the novel seem a bit immature to me.
Terry Hammoutene
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is set in 1908 and follows Emily Soper. Her father made carriages and in a world in which "a woman's place was In the home" she didn't feel she had much options.
The story makes you realize all we have now is because of what happened then. With the prejudices and the hardships. It teaches us how change affects everyone whether it is the creation of a motorized carriage or how we treat our neighbors.
Linda Mitchell
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, thank you, Storm Stella! I hunkered down and read Wheels of Change by Darlene Jacobson. What a beautiful middle-grade historical spun out of family lore. Perfect for those 1900-1919 years when there were so many, many new inventions and contraptions up against age-old conventions.

I hope this author keeps writing. One of my favorite lines from the book, "There's no wrong time to help a friend". (62)
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply wonderful! I picked this up on a whim off the used book shelf at our library for my daughter and I to read and we were absolutely entranced. The story took us back in time and really immersed us in Emily's world and issues of the time period. I liked the vocabulary lessons found throughout the book- they just added to the fun of the book for us. We were so sad the book was over! ...more
Carol Baldwin
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good title is worth at least as much.

WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston Books, 2014), Darlene Beck Jacobson’s debut middle grade novel, is exactly what it purports to be: a novel about change. And of course, about wheels.

The story, based loosely on Jacobson’s grandmother, shows 12-year-old Emily Soper in the middle of personal, family, and societal changes. Set in Washington, D.C. in 1908, WHEELS OF CHANGE is an ideal book for girls who loved the historical
Patricia Keeler
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Washington, DC is my hometown, so it was exciting to find a book that embraced
the history of this beautiful city! Wheels of Change takes place during Theodore
Roosevelt’s presidency—a time of racial inequality, the suffragette movement,
and new Model T Fords. These new-fangled horseless carriages threaten the
need for traditional horse-drawn carriages, and as a result the Soper Carriage
Works. Twelve-year-old Emily Soper worries for her parents, as well as herself.

I loved this book, because it
Cara Anderson-boiler
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading the story of Emily Soper and being swept up in her life in the early 1900s. I couldn’t put the book down.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Age Recommended: 12 and up

Wheels of Change was an extraordinary book about a family trying to cope with the changing world and the technology revolution of the time. The author developed the main character of the book really well. The book also does a really good job of introducing kids to issues of women’s suffrage and racial discrimination, both of which were prevalent in early 1900s. I did find some parts of the story a little repetitive, but otherwise the book is very well-written.

This book
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Emily is a precocious young girl growing up in Washington, D.C., at the turn of the century. The year is 1908, and her Papa is a skilled blacksmith, creating beautiful carriages in his workshop. Emily loves to be there, watching the workmen and helping with small tasks, but her mother is determined to turn her into a lady. She is especially excited when Papa is commissioned to design and build a majestic carriage for none other than President Teddy Roosevelt!

Yet, times are changing. Motor cars
Zach Koenig
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best works of historical fiction are the ones that really put you inside the era/people they are trying to describe. "Wheels of Change" by Darlene Beck Jacobson does exactly that, managing to make readers feel as if they are actually living in the Washington D.C. of 1909.

The basic premise of this book centers on young Emily Soper and the struggles of her blooming adolescence and curious mind. When her Papa, an esteemed carriage-maker, begins an order for President Teddy Roosevelt himself, Em
Laurel Nakai
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love being immersed in the world of a story, and that’s exactly what you get with Wheels of Change. Set in 1908, Emily Soper is a bright young girl who longs for something more than to be a wife and mother. She has a hard time staying out of her father’s blacksmith shop and keeping her dress clean. Emily is an endearing character who is navigating a time of great change in American History. Her personal and family struggles coincide with racial inequality, women’s suffrage, and the birth of a ...more
Norma Meyer
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding book. I had the great honor to preview it. I had a general idea of the story line beforehand, but was pulled into the book almost instantly. I am very impressed by the depth of characterization for a book written for children. Beck Jacobson manages to cover some very important social and technological changes in the world without making the history laborious. One feels as though he/she is living the experience.
I loved the young heroine - she is very real, Her daily intera
Marilyn Ostermiller
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s powerful to fully experience life at moments of great change. The dawning of the Internet Age. America’s Moon Landing. Such times offer opportunities for people with the courage and foresight to embrace change.

“Wheels of Change” plunges readers into the early 1900’s in America, when the automobile first became a popular means of transportation. Emily Soper, who loves to help her father in his carriage-making business, realizes the horseless carriage could put her father out of business unl
Lynda Gene
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
From the first time I read Darlene Jacobson's manuscript, I knew that her hero, Emily, was a girl we'd all be glad to know. She's a vivid character interested in blacksmithing, baking, and words, and while she's brave and curious, she's also refreshingly imperfect. In the year 1919, Emily faces - and sometimes causes - enormous change in her family's way of life. Jacobson's writing sparkles with clarity and energy and with a first novel this good, I hope we're in for more of Emily, or at least m ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. Set in historical Washington D.C. when races mixing was still taboo, Emily Soper learns a lot about adapting to the world through events that happen to her family, friends, and herself.

I found the writing to be beautiful yet still realistic. I could picture myself there, peeking through a window, and watching it all unfold.

I can see this book winning awards and someday, rotating through the public school system as reading material. This is a book I will read more than once
Gina Schaarschmidt
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
First of all, what a beautiful cover. Love, love, love it.

This is a sweet, impeccably researched glimpse at early 20th Century Washington DC. It touches on the issues of the times and, yes, the many changes happening -- technology, women's rights and prejudice. It somehow reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, in that the protagonist's voice was similar, Bea Pea reminded me of Nellie, and the vibe the book gave me.

I loved the author's notes about the family connection, and the photos of M
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she's more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she'd never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she ...more
Karen Fortunati
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel! Terrifically entertaining and superbly written, twelve-year-old protagonist Emily Soper grabs the reader's heart from the get-go! The story weaves historical fact, the author's family history with a beautifully touching narrative. Turn of the twentieth century Washington, D.C. is rife with change on so many areas: race, gender and technology. Darlene Beck Jacobson showcases the tension through the eyes of Emily in a realistic and engaging way. Yet home remains the heart of th ...more
Bibi Belford
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Once I got used to the historical tone of the novel I liked it a lot. It will be a great book to add to social studies units, introducing students to the industrial revolution and how it affected people. I also like the opportunity it presents for students to discuss the two viewpoints about change in debates or discussions, perfect for the rigors of today's higher order thinking push. I agree with a couple of the reviewers that stated the pacing was uneven. In some ways this is not a criticism, ...more
Robin Newman
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone! Terrific book!
I LOVED this book. It has a timeless feel, akin to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, and from page 1 you find yourself rooting for 12-year old Emily Soper, who unlike some of the adults in her life, is unafraid to take a stand for what is right. What makes this book even more special is that it was inspired by the real life experiences of the author’s grandmother, Mary Emily Soper. I highly recommend it.
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great historical fiction novel that takes place during a time not often discussed in elementary or middle school social studies-- early 20th century. The main character is a young girl whose father makes carriages right around the time that Henry Ford and automobiles are threatening this business. The story also touches on racial and gender inequality in a way that makes sense with the story and the characters.

Yvonne Ventresca
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Wheels of Change transports the reader to the early 1900s in Washington, DC where Emily worries about personal problems (her father’s struggling business, her mother’s insistence on learning proper housekeeping) as well as larger issues (racial tension, women’s inability to vote). Beck Jacobson manages to weave in lots of fascinating details from the time period without weighing down the story. The result is an entertaining book that brings history to life.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mg-fiction
When a carriage maker faces changes, his daughter decides to help out by writing to the President. This results in Mary Emily Sopher being invited to the White House by President Roosevelt. Retold from the history of authors family, this is a wonderful book for Middle Grade readers exploring several aspects of the time.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Glass Hotel
  • Camino Winds (Camino Island, #2)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  • Trace Elements (A Commissario Guido Brunetti #29)
  • False Impression
  • The Secret Guests
  • Spencerville
  • When Enemies Offend Thee
  • Stories We Never Told
  • Metropolis
  • The Eye of Ra (The Eye of Ra, #1)
  • The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran
  • Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama
  • Hitler's Forgotten Children: My Life Inside The Lebensborn
  • 13 Gifts (Willow Falls, #3)
  • The Dragon of Lonely Island (The Dragon of Lonely Island #1)
  • Heir of Ra (Blood of Ra Book One)
  • The Shooting at Chateau Rock (Bruno, Chief of Police #13)
See similar books…

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
128 likes · 21 comments