Review: The Roller Coaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman

roller coaster kid

The Roller Coaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman, illustrated by Roger Roth

Zach loves spending time in the summer with his grandparents.  They go to the beach, fly kites, find shells, and go to Oceanside Park.  The only thing Zach doesn’t like there is the rollercoaster.  He waits in line with Grandpa but then always changes his mind at the last moment.  Instead, he rides the Big Wheel with his grandmother.  Zach knows that the next time, he will be able to ride the rollercoaster.  But the next time he visits, everything is different: his grandmother is no longer there.  His grandfather is not like he used to be at all.  Zach knows one thing that is sure to cheer up his grandfather, and that’s the rollercoaster.  But will Zach be able to ride it this one, very important, time?

Rodman tells this story with clarity and gentleness.  It’s a story of the deep connection between grandparents and grandchildren and how that connection can help with grief.  It is also a story of bravery thanks to love.  Children will relate to the connection with grandparents, though the jolly cover may not warn parents that this is a story of loss. 

Roth’s illustrations have a subtle vintage quality to them, something that hearkens back to yesteryear though it is solidly set in the modern day.  The illustrations of Zach on the rollercoaster are wonderful, showing the fear, the doubt and finally the exhilaration. 

A roller coaster book that shows the roller coaster ride of life as well, this book addresses the loss of a grandparent with a shining heart.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.