cover image The Roller Coaster Kid

The Roller Coaster Kid

Mary Ann Rodman, illus. by Roger Roth. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01150-6

“When the time is right, you’ll face your fear,” Zach’s grandmother tells him as they ride the Ferris wheel after he refuses to ride the Whipper roller coaster with Grandpa. Rodman’s (Camp K-9) moving story of grief and intergenerational ties then skips ahead a year; “everything’s different. Grandma’s gone. Forever.” Hoping to cheer up Grandpa, Zach suggests they ride the Whipper. “I’m facing my fear, but I sure don’t feel brave,” thinks Zach, who is angry afterward when his grandfather doesn’t praise him—as Grandma would have—for braving the ride. In a candid conversation, the two confide for the first time that they miss Grandma, resulting in a breakthrough in their relationship. Rodman gives the story just the right measure of emotion (“Grandpa smiles. Not like he used to, but a smile all the same”), while underlining the importance of mourning and communication. Well-tuned to the narrative, Roth’s (Star of the Week) detailed and delicately drafted watercolors capture the nostalgic aura of the seaside amusement park, Zach’s ricocheting emotions, and his deep bond with both grandparents. Ages 4–up. Illustrator’s agent: Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (July)