First comes the wheel, then comes storks — “The Wheel on the School”

Why would you want to put a wheel on top of the school?

If you are wondering “why,” then congratulations, you are curious! Curiosity is the beginning to great many things. Our story, which takes place in a little Dutch fishing village of Shora, begins with Lina, the only girl in the little Shora school (with five boys, and one man teacher). Now, the story does not begin with Lina because she is the only girl, but because she writes a composition on storks:

Do you know about storks? Storks on your roof bring all kinds of good luck. I know this about storks; they are big and white and have long yellow bills and tall yellow legs. They build great big messy nests, sometimes right on your roof. But when they build a nest on the roof of a house, they bring good luck to that house and to the whole village that the house stands in. Storks do not sing. They make a noise like you do when you clap your hands when you feel happy and good.

That is all Lina knows about storks because storks never come to Shora to build their nests. Like Lina, all her classmates (the teacher included) are now curious about storks. First, curiosity, then what? Then, you ask questions.

Why don’t the storks come to Shora? They did before, but why not now?

The Wheel on the School By Meindert DeJong & Pictures by Maurice Sendak

The Wheel on the School
By Meindert DeJong & Pictures by Maurice Sendak

Think. Grandmother Sibble tells Lina, “in order to figure out what a stork would want, we should try to think the way a stork would think.”

What do storks need? trees? river? or wheel? 

Wheel it is! The children and their teacher conclude that their roofs in Shora are too pointy for storks to build their nests. To fix the situation, they need to find a wheel and put it on top of a roof.

You have narrowed down the solution, now what? Well, you must plan. You, and the children, must ask yourselves – How / Where will I find a wheel?

Lastly, and most importantly, is taking actions. In their search for a wheel, the children encounter incidents after incidents (some good, and some make you go “oh no!”), and meet people who they would never have talked to before, like Janus and old Douwa. The entire village mobilizes to help. I don’t want to give you too much information, but the story is charming, delightful, suspenseful, funny, and touching. Translation: I love it!

The Wheel on the School offers a simple message – when you start to wonder about the whys, it might just be the beginning to making things happen. And remember, no matter what troubles or mishaps you meet along the way, you must never give up, because, as Lina said, “how can we know if we don’t try?”

The Wheel on the School
Written by Meindert DeJon & Pictures by Maurice Sendak

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