Roller Coaster


Written and Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Harcourt Books, 2003

All of these people are waiting in line for the roller coaster.

Previously Reviewed Books from this Author:  Boot & Shoe, Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert

The story starts with a long line of people, waiting to ride the roller coaster.  Some are roller coaster fans, some have only ridden a few times and at least one (the little girl who is pretty much the subject of our story) has never ridden a roller coaster before.  The roller coaster is big and has a height requirement, which she passes.  When they get to the front of the line, the girl and her father, along with ten other people, board the roller coaster car and buckle in.  The train clicks up the hill and then dives and swoops, up and down, while everyone screams and laughs.  At the end of the ride, some people are dizzy and the little girl wants to ride again right away.

Author/illustrator Marla Frazee amazes with her ability to recreate all the emotions of a first roller coaster ride, including the nervousness that grows as you get closer to boarding, the ‘am I really going to do this?’ moment, the fear of the unknown as the ride starts and then that rush of adrenaline and excitement at the first big drop.  The illustrations, done in graphite and watercolor, are presented without background, which brings the ride itself into full focus.

Someone needs to tell the guy in the back that bubble gum is ill advised on a roller coaster.

Someone needs to tell the guy in the back that bubble gum is ill advised on a roller coaster.

The story works as a metaphor for life, with the differing levels of experience and reactions.  I love that the artwork includes a wide variety of people, from different age and racial groups.  One of my favorite surprises was the older couple, who seemed to enjoy the thrills even more than the two young men riding right behind them.  I like to think my husband and I, both huge coaster fans, will still be screaming on the big drops well into our twilight years.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that life has ups and downs and everyone experiences them differently.  It’s best to just hold on tight, bring someone you love and enjoy the ride.


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