Monday, April 3, 2017

Wheels of Change: A Review, Autographed Giveaway, and Free Skype Visit!

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 American Girl series and are now ready for meatier fare. 

Emily loves everything about her father’s carriage shop: the sounds, smells, and even the “pulsing waves of heat [which] make it feel like summer year round.” (p. 2). The following quote not only shows Emily’s affection, but foreshadows troubles to come:
I stare into the fire’s belly, watching it move and change colors as if it were a living thing. Some folks might think the forge is dark and dreary, with only one small window. But the fire is like a beacon that lights up the whole barn and makes it shimmer. Papa’s barn without the forge would be like Mama’s house without the kitchen. The heart would be gone. (p.2)

In truth, Emily wishes she could be a blacksmith—but of course, that’s not a fitting trade for a young woman in the beginning of the twentieth century.  As a result of her friendship with Henry, the Negro blacksmith who she enjoys watching, she learns first hand about racism and loyalty. 

Whereas impetuous and worry-wart Emily feels more at home in the forge than in her mother's kitchen, her mother has other plans for her. She wants Emily to learn domestic skills including how to host a tea for the neighborhood women. Emily surprises herself by enjoying baking, but the tea proves disastrous when Emily violently disagrees with one of the guests. Without spoiling the book, let's just say that Emily's courage saves the forge when a disgruntled employee, angry over Henry reclaiming his job, attempts to destroy it.   

After the tea, her teacher muses, 
".....Mr. Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave with grief to think that after all these years since the war, people still act this way. The war was supposed to change things." 
There's that word again. Change. Even after a horrible war, people still hold on to their old ideas about folks like Henry. The truth of it makes my insides churn and ache. 
Maybe folks can do without physical changes like cars and electricity. But old ideas about colored people and women should change. They must. (pp.153-4)
When her father's business starts failing because more people are buying motorcars, she suggests a new idea to her father:
"All this time, we liked everything to be just as it is. But some changes can bring really good things, Papa. Like colored folks living peacefully next to white folks and women getting to vote. What if you changed carriage making into something else?" 
"Like what?" 
"Maybe folks still need other things that horses pull. Wagons, carts, surreys, and coaches." My eyes open wider as more ideas pop into my head. "Baby buggies will never need motors. Sleighs and sleds for winter..." (p. 188-9)
And with that, Emily becomes an agent of change.

Honorable Mention, 2015

I am giving away my autographed hard cover copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE plus curriculum materials. Jacobson has volunteered to provide a SKYPE visit if the winner is an educator; if you prefer you can donate this visit to a school of your choice. If you are a media specialist, teacher, or home school parent, please let me know and I'll enter your name twice. If I don't have your email address make sure you leave it.  Giveaway ends on Saturday, April 8. 


darlenebeckjacobson said...

Carol, Thanks so much for the lovely review and kind words about my book WHEELS OF CHANGE. I look forward to stopping by and reviewing the comments. I also look forward to sharing a SKYPE visit with the winner.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for the opportunity, Darlene, to share your book with my readers!

Unknown said...

This is such an amazing book! My 5th graders loved it when I read it aloud. So many great lessons in a beautifully told story. I'd love an autographed copy for my room.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Darlene. Make sure you leave me your email address in case you win. I'm sure Darlene Jacobson will be happy to hear that your fifth graders loved it!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for sharing Wheels of Change with us. Being a person who proposes change is sometimes an unwelcome person. I'd prefer that a teacher or librarian win the copy of the book and curriculum guide. So don't count me in for the win for this offer.

Celebrate you
Never Give Up

sheri levy said...

Great book and post, as usual!
Sounds so interesting I will check it out. I am not teaching now, so please don't put my name in the hat. Thanks for sharing this story.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joan and Sheri!

Linda A. said...

Another great giveaway. If I were to win, I would donate it to a school library. I'm also going to post on Facebook. Maybe an educator, librarian, or homeschool parent will see the post and comment here. Worth a try.

Theresa Jones said...

I love historical fiction and this book sounds interesting. I'll add it to my TBR list. Can I donate the skype visit to my daughter's school. She teaches 3rd grade in Durham, NC. I'm sure one of the teachers there would be interested. I'm also a retired homeschooler and will pass on the information to our support group.

Carol Baldwin said...

You can absolutely donate the Skype visit, Theresa! Your name goes in twice!

Carol Baldwin said...

Theresa--don't forget to leave me your email address! :)

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Love the sound of this book. Great trailer too!Congratulations, Darlene on winning The Grateful American Prize Honorable Mention! That's terrific!

Absolutely enter me in the contest, Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

You're in, Joyce!

darlenebeckjacobson said...

Thanks so much for your congratulations and kind words Joyce.

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