Quill and Quire

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Night Sky Wheel Ride

by Sheree Fitch; Yayo, illus.

A visit to the fairground turns into a wild romp through realms of the imagination in this new offering from East Coast poet and author Sheree Fitch.

Mixing rhymed and unrhymed verse with concrete poetry that mirrors the action, this book revels in the impressionistic experiences of young children. The refrain of the first few pages suggests uncertainty: “Are we big enough this year, Mama? / Are we brave enough, Brother? / Sister, are you ready to fly?” But once the two siblings at the centre of the tale see the whirling Ferris wheel, they decide they are old enough, and their ride becomes a transformative flight with all the new perspectives it offers.

Fitch’s language captures the siblings’ excitement: “Hop up to knee knock rockety rock swiggle sway creak squeak rickety ratcheting up! up! up!” When the wheel stops with the children at the top, they pause to wonder at the night sky, connecting stars to ward off fear, and enjoying the silence: “Hushshsh… Can you hear the mermaids murmur / beluga whales sing / feel the whirling stir / of every little humming phosphorescent thing?” When they finally return to earth, they feel they are forever part of the sky.

This is a glorious book that celebrates both literal and imaginative flight. Fitch’s evocative lines are magnified by Yayo’s exuberant illustrations. Marvellous transformations abound: clouds of cotton candy become trees, flowers become children, people below become jelly beans, Ferris wheel cars become boats and beds, then falling apples. The boundary between reality and fantasy is wondrously blurred to create a vivid experience of the world’s possibilities. Young readers will find much to delight in here.