19 January 2010


Our family vacations usually involve a trip to at least one theme park to ride roller coasters. Matt has been measuring Isaac since he turned one, waiting impatiently for the day that he would be tall enough to ride something. I get updates each spring on which rides Isaac is now big enough for. His first trip to Disney World was when he was 4 months old, and he has been multiple times since, thanks to the good fortune of having relatives who work there. He rode the Tower of Terror for the first time this fall. Carowinds is another destination with which Isaac has become very familiar and he took his first trip to King's Dominion last spring. Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be added to the list in a few months and Matt is already planning our vacation for the summer of 2011 to California, the home of Disney Land and Legoland.

Needless to say we are fans of coasters and thrill rides, none of us more so than Matt. And he began passing his obsession on to Isaac since day one. So, when I saw the book Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee at a book fair a couple of years, of course I had to buy it. It was one of the first books from which Isaac could recite lines.

The story is perfect for any child about to take that first trip to a big amusement park and take the step of riding the big rides. I remember riding my first coaster with my dad, and the nervousness and excitement and fear are all contained within the pages of this book. The story follows a crowd waiting in line for a coaster. The narrator describes the people -- the old couple who have ridden so many coasters that they are blase about this one, the teenage girl hanging fearfully/coquetishly on her boyfriend's shoulder, the big strapping guy who would rather have his manhood questioned by his friends when he gets out of line than face the noisy monster before him, and the little girl who is unsure about what she is about to do but knows that she is safe with her daddy.

As the people finally board the train, the reader is swooped along for the ride as the coaster turns and jerks and even goes upside down. There are lots of small details for kids to notice in the illustrations -- the looks on the riders faces ranging from exhilaration to terror, the hat falling off the little boy and being picked up by a bird, the hulking guy who vomits in a trash can when the ride is over. And at the end, one rider is ready to do it all over again, right then.

This book comes out every time we get ready to visit a theme park, and many other times, too, just to remind us of the rush of riding coasters. Roller coasters are about seeking out thrills and defying the laws of nature. Pretty much what boys dream of doing every day.

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