Author: Rosemary Wells
Illustrator: Brian Selznick
My rating: 4 of 5
Reuben and his parents live safe, ordinary lives in a safe, ordinary town where watching a trick-performing airplane is about the most exciting thing to come to town in ages. However, when the dust starts rolling in, his comfortable world begins to crumble, leaving his family as destitute as the rest of their slowing eroding town. Gambling everything on an advertised job in an out-of-state newspaper, the family joins a traveling carnival, and Reuben’s world alters expansively as he watches his dad tap-dance on a flying plane’s wing, sees his mother worrying but persevering, and meets the variety of individuals also working for the carnival.
I have to admit, I originally picked up this book simply because I love the illustrator–and I wasn’t disappointed. The pictures are as beautiful and evocative as I’ve come to expect from Selznick’s work; however, while reading, I’ve fallen in love with Rosemary Well’s work as well. The story is told with the wide-eyed candor of a young boy. It’s quite compelling to read. I love that the author took a story about the Depression and crafted it into a story that’s more about facing our fears and learning about the people around us than it is about all the bad things that can happen in life. All in all, Wingwalker is a forthright story that I would recommend, particularly as an introduction to the Depression era for younger readers.