The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong, was published in 1954 by HarperCollins.
The Wheel on the School is a delightfully long story, which contains much more than I was anticipating. The best books, in my opinion, are ones that have multiple stories within the main plot. The main plot of this one is the children trying to get storks to nest in their village again, but there are other stories that are told along the way, with great messages of friendship, teamwork, and community.
The best story in the book, maybe even better than the main stork one, was of the communal acceptance of Janus. DeJong simply and beautifully sketches a tale of a man who self-isolates himself after an accident leaves him without his legs, who is then drawn back into and accepted by the community with the help of children. So the heartwarming story of community getting together to help each other and to help storks is made even more uplifting.
I really wasn’t expecting so much out of The Wheel on the School, and while there were parts that seemed a bit too long, I appreciate that DeJong took the time to really build up the village and the community rather than just tell a simple tale of children putting a wheel on a school. There’s even a bit of danger and adventure included. There’s not enough there to make it a particularly memorable book—it’s lacking a little bit of “oomph” to make it stand out to me—but it’s an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Recommended Age Range: 8+
Genre: Children’s, Historical Fiction