Sally’s Rating: 3.5/5
The Wheel on the School is a charming feel-good story about a girl who wants to make her dreams of storks returning to a small Holland town come true. Through passion and dedication, Lina and her classmates mobilize a whole village to help find a wheel to put atop the school so some storks will come nest there.
This book has a such a simple premise that its easy to roll your eyes at it. After writing an essay on storks, Lina sees an opportunity to try to attempt to get storks to come back to her town. The children go on a quest and must overcome different obstacles to find the objects they need to build the nest. Each chapter details how the students look for a wagon wheel while serving as a way to show the characters overcoming their flaws and weaknesses to find their strengths. I enjoyed the camaraderie among the students and the townspeople as the town is eventually won over by the necessity of getting a wheel on top of the school.
Except for Lina, Janus and the teacher, most of the characters blended together. Most of the children were interchangeable for me, but the adults in the story were more developed and intriguing to read about. I found myself enjoying the teacher’s little tidbits of wisdom and poignant advice that was shared with the six students. Lina’s passion for the project was refreshing to read about, and Janus’s personality combined with him being a paraplegic interjected some unexpected humor and seriousness into all his interactions.
At its heart, Meindert DeJong’s The Wheel on the School shows how one small town unites under a single cause. Its an easy read for a younger audience, but it also teaches a great lesson without being overly moralizing on how to grab a hold of your dreams and not let go.