Wheels of Change

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Product Details
$12.95  $12.04
Creston Books
Publish Date
5.6 X 7.6 X 0.9 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author
Darlene Beck Jacobson has a BA in Special Education and a Reading Specialist MA. She worked as a Speech Language Specialist with the Glassboro Public Schools in Glassboro, NJ for 20 years. When not writing books, she substitute-teaches for Pre-K and K classes in her former school district.

Beck Jacobson has loved writing since she was a girl. She wrote letters to everyone she knew and made up stories in her head. Although she never wrote to a president, she sent many letters to pop stars of the day asking for photos and autographs. Her stories have appeared in Cicada, Cricket, and other magazines. Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts and interviews with children's book authors and illustrators. Check out her website at Darlenebeckjacobson.com.
Changes fomenting both locally and nationally during the final year of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency are seen through the eyes of feisty, bighearted Emily Soper, daughter of a carriage maker in Washington, D.C. Twelve-year-old Emily loves helping her father in his barn; she even dreams, in futility, of becoming a blacksmith like her father's beloved employee, Henry. She and her best friend, Charlie, ponder such things as gender roles, women's suffrage and 'horseless carriages.' She dutifully tries to become a lady even while working on a secret that uses her 'masculine skills.' As the year progresses, Henry falls ill, and Emily and her family are subjected to the uncertainties of changing times as well as some nasty treatment from white supremacists. Resemblances to To Kill a Mockingbird are strong, especially during a tea party hosted by Emily's mother. A nice touch: Throughout much of the book, Papa teaches Emily--and vicariously, readers--new vocabulary words. The strength of the text lies in Jacobson's ability to evoke a different era and to endear readers to the protagonist. The prose is straightforward and well-researched, heavily peppered with historical references and containing enough action to keep readers' attention. Readers will empathize with Emily as she goes through her own changes, and they will applaud her heroism in more than one chapter. (author's note, photographs, recipes, bibliography, websites) (Historical fiction. 8-11)
-- Kirkus Reviews

A moving and quietly beautiful story whose simple surface hides deep lessons.
-- Kermit Roosevelt III, great-great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, law professor, and author of In the Shadow of the Law and The Myth of Judicial Activism

Sparkling writing, meticulous research, and a brave, bright girl who learns which changes in her world truly matter.
-- Joanne Rocklin, award-winning author of The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

Courage in the face of life-altering changes, both large and small, is at the heart of this captivating novel. Brimming with lifelike characters and vivid historical details, readers will cheer for gutsy 12-year-old Emily as she goes from one adventure to the next, finding her place in an ever-changing world.
-- Gabrielle M. Casieri, Library Media Specialist, Lawrence Intermediate School, Lawrenceville New Jersey

Wheels of Change is a wonderful, heartwarming story that captures a pivotal time in history. Using her own family's story, Darlene Beck Jacobson shows how people struggle with and overcome change.
-- Bronwen Anderson-Sanders, Executive Director, Mifflinburg Buggy Museum

The superbly researched Wheels of Change is an engaging peek at the pivotal transition from carriage to car. Young readers will delight in the character of Emily Soper, a plucky girl facing change with an iron will.
-- Janet Fox, author of Forgiven and Sirens

Twelve-year-old Emily lives in the early 1900s in Washington, D.C. Her father owns the Soper Carriage Works, a company that makes high quality carriages, and her mother stays home to take care of the children and household chores with the expectation Emily will do what a girl "should do." However, Emily is fond of spending time in her father's carriage barn where everything is fresh and magical to her rather than working in a kitchen. At the turn of 20th century lots of things are changing, including the new techniques of making carriages that threaten Emily's father's livelihood. As the story progresses, Emily cooks up plans to save her father's business by exercising her courage and agency as a young lady. While turning the pages and wheeling through American history, readers can also sample traditional American dishes, including peach pie, gingerbread, biscuits, and sugar cookies by following recipes included in the book. Although the sweets and snacks may not be uncommon to many readers, tasting homemade treats prepared by their very own hands promises pleasure to their taste buds and fond memories of this historical tale that is based on a true story.
--IRA Reading Today Online

I love a good historical read, and this one hauled me in from the very beginning. I especially relished the sensory details in the opening pages. I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, and the smaller moments really sparkled in the pages (in one of my favorite scenes, Emily's mother helps her hang a horseshoe for luck). Jacobson smartly juxtaposes the changes in young Emily's personal life (she's slowly leaving behind childhood and making steps toward becoming a young woman) with larger changes in the outside world (racial and gender upheaval as well as technological advancements). Emily can't keep the demands of turn-of-the-twentieth century womanhood at bay, nor can she keep the world from driving automobiles and abandoning her father's glorious carriages. But the reader will absolutely be glad that Jacobson takes us back to revisit this moment in time. A lovely tribute to Jacobson's family (text at the end indicates that the book is partly based on family history). Highly recommended.
--Holly Schindler, Novel Anecdotes

Gr 4-6--Emily Soper is a 12-year-old who lives in a time of transformation. She sees big changes coming in Washington, DC in 1908--from women's suffrage to the invention of the automobile. She is even going through a time of personal transition, as her mother and father begin pushing her to spend less time in her father's barn and more time learning to be a proper lady. Resistant to amending her ways at first, Emily begins to see that it is important to have the courage to change when her father's carriage making business is threatened by racial intolerance and the invention of the automobile. This superb work of historical fiction features a delightful protagonist and a likable cast of supporting characters. Jacobson's writing is simple, elegant, and clever. The story's pacing helps build to an exciting conclusion, and gives a great window into an important time in American history. Using a word game between Emily and her father, Jacobson smartly weaves in vocabulary and their definitions, without taking away from the story. The back matter also features an author's note and recipes.--Amanda Augsburger, Moline Public Library, IL
-- School Library Journal

I enjoyed this middle grade story not only because of the skilled storytelling of the author, but also because Emily is a character that kids today can easily relate to. At twelve years old, she is just beginning to realize that the coziness of her happy home life will not necessarily ensure security in the outside world. Circumstances and people run along, out of our control, and to survive we have to learn to adapt and rely on resourcefulness and creativity. I also am always thrilled when a middle grade reader does not talk down to younger readers. Ms. Jacobson kept the dialogue and vocabulary age appropriate yet just challenging enough to stretch the young reader's mind. There are too many middle school level books that oversimplify words and sentence structure.
--Bubblews reviews

"This book was great. I loved that Emily received a response and invitation from the president after sending a letter criticizing him. It gives me hope that maybe someday I will meet the President also. I really liked that a girl my age, Emily, was the heroine in the story. She is very courageous and brave."

"This is a great book filled with history and what was going on in 1909. What I love about a historical book is when there is enough real history and the fictional part could have happened. I give this book a 5 out of 5."
--Deal Sharing Aunt

Wheels of Change is an entertaining and reassuring way of drawing kids into early 20th-century American history. Important social issues that still resonate today are explored in a historical context and include racism, women's rights, and gender roles. . .Positive, educational messages abound about adapting to change and treating others equally and respectfully.
-- Common Sense Media

I loved every minute I spent with Emily and her family.
-- John Schu, Watch, Connect, Read

NCSS/CBC Notable Studies Trade Books for Young People list 2014

I really enjoyed this book, from start to finish. I found myself swept up by the plethora of compelling characters, the interesting yet believable setting, and a story line I couldn't resist. I especially loved how relatable the main character, Emily, is. She is passionate about fighting for justice, but doesn't alienate others in the process.

The historical morsels layered into the story make it all the more interesting. One of my favorite parts is the introduction of corn flakes to Emily's life. It is interesting to see how this new food is a relief for Emily's mother as this cereal has an advantage of not needing to be heated up to be enjoyable.

Both girls and boys will relate to this coming-of-age story set in the final days of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. Along the way, children will learn many things about the way life used to be, and they will have a great time doing so.
--LitPicks Reviews