The Wheel on the School

by Meindert DeJong

Other authorsMaurice Sendak (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1972

Call number




HarperCollins (1972), 320 pages


Why do the storks no longer come to the little Dutch fishing village of Shora to nest? It was Lina, one of the six schoolchildren who first asked the question, and she set the others to wondering. And sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen. So the children set out to bring the storks back to Shora. The force of their vision put the whole village to work until at last the dream began to come true.

User reviews

LibraryThing member JimLupine
An extraordinary gem, among the greatest children's books of all time.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
This book is lovely. It teaches about the value of each human life, young or old, also about determination, hope and initiative. All this without preaching a moral. Funny, exciting and suspenseful. A great family read-aloud book.
LibraryThing member mrsarey
This story is about working together to solve a problem. I love this book because, although it takes place in a different country long ago, it still speaks to us today.
LibraryThing member raizel
Interesting book about Dutch schoolchildren who are encouraged by their teacher to try to put a wheel on their schoolhouse to attract storks to their small fishing village again. Typical of traditional children's books, all the adventures that should have ended with people dying instead succeed and lead to closer ties in the community and greater understanding. Also, everything fits together very tidily and turns out to be related to the primary goal in the story.… (more)
LibraryThing member AMQS
This read aloud, published in 1954, took us forever to get through -- partly because we've been so busy, and party because it started so slow. I'm so glad we stuck with it, though, because we loved it. If it started slow, it picked up in a big way about halfway through, with breathless action! This is a charming portrait of a bygone era -- a tiny fishing village in Holland, where the six school-aged children attend the one-room school in their wooden shoes, and their fishermen fathers spend long weeks at sea. Young Lina is distracted from her studies because her aunt told her of storks who come every year to nest on her town's roofs. Lina wonders why storks never come to Shora, and her teacher challenges the children to find out. They learn, and decide to bring them back. The problem: the steep roofs of Shora are not hospitable to storks, and similar towns solve the problem by putting wagon wheels on their roofs. Thus begins a mission to find a wheel for their school's roof -- an unlikely and improbable task. The result, however, unites the tiny community like never before. This is a very moving read and terrific storytelling. I'm so glad we stuck with it!… (more)
LibraryThing member satyridae
Very charming story that read much like a fairytale. There weren't any surprises but the heartwarming bits came thick and fast. If I have a complaint, it's that the names are so similar it was hard to keep track: 2 Jans, a Jana, a Janus, and a Janka for instance. And in one family, Lena the mom, Lina and Linda the daughters. I was asea more than once due to name confusion. I wish I'd read this when I was 9, but I'm glad I read it at this late date.… (more)
LibraryThing member goodnightmoon
Potentially, a charming little story, with plenty of whimsical happenings and village wisdom ("So impossibly impossible that it just had to be!"). And it was interesting to imagine this little Dutch village. I was distracted, however, by the many long scenes that I just couldn't picture. Getting the wheel from the barn, rowing out to the upturned boat, affixing the wheel to the roof - very technical, boring scenes. Not sure it's got enough to recommend it at this point, though.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
This is truly an odd story. A village in Holland is sad because no storks come to nest in their town. The children and their teacher decide to change things by making a project of it; they will find an old wagon wheel and put it on top of the school for storks to nest in.Pretty soon, the whole town is involved in the project. Everyone is out looking for wagon wheels. Everyone is figuring out how to put the wheel on the school. Everyone is helping put the wagon wheel on the roof of the school. There are plenty of difficulties in the task, including finding the wagon wheel in the first place. The project creates unexpected side benefits of a strong community spirit and new friendships.… (more)
LibraryThing member SASegsworth
Enjoyable read. Six schoolchildren in Holland set out to bring storks to their community and bring the community together, including some unusual heroes, in the process.
LibraryThing member antiquary
I have a fairly dim recollection that this was read to me as a child. My recollection is that it was read in school, but since we had this copy when my brother and I were very young, it may be that my mother read it to us. At this point all I remember is that the wheel was for storks to nest on.
LibraryThing member jerryrichardson
Summary: A story about a little town that had only six school children. In the beginning a little girl named Lina, read a story she wrote to her class about storks. The teacher let them go early that day, but they had to think about why the storks do not nest in their little town of Shora. They figured out that the reason is because they had no wagon wheel on the top of their roof. They spent most of the book finding a wagon wheel. Each of the six students went on a different a path to locate a wagon wheel. IN the end, they found one, put it on top of the school, and caught two storks and put them with the wheel on top of the school house.

Personal Reflection: The story reminds me about a young Lieutenant during a war was asked to deliver a message to President Garcia, but was not told anything, the LT. had to figure it out on his own. I told that story many times to my Soldiers throughout my career.

Classroom Extension
1. The same lesson that was taught in the book, could be used in any school, and the children could figure out why a bird or other animal is no longer in their immediate area.

2. In a science class, teach nesting habits of different birds, and why they nest in the same area each year.
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LibraryThing member klburnside
I'm on another Newberry kick. This book is about kids in a fishing village in Holland that decide they want storks to nest in their village. So they go on a quest to find a wagon wheel to put on the roof of their school as a nesting site for the storks. It is a nice story about imagination and curiousity and people working together to make something happen. It was a little too adventurous towards the end for my tastes, otherwise I may have given it four stars.… (more)
LibraryThing member Dreesie
This cute book won the Newbery Award in 1955. It is illustrated in black and white by Maurice Sendak.

This story takes place in the small village of Shora in the Netherlands. Theonly girl of the 5 students at the town school, Lina, writes a story wondering why Shora doesn't have storks like the neighboring towns. The teacher tells the kids to wonder about it. Which leads to their discussing it. They learn that Shora did have storks, and their oldest neighbors remember them. The students learn they need a wheel on the roof, for storks to nest on. They search for a wheel, and pretty soon the whole town (and neighbors from another town) is involved. They meet older neighbors they have been afraid of or just never spoke to, they have adventures, and they learn each others' strengths. A very sweet story about how you can accomplish something if you work hard, work together, and think outside the box.… (more)
LibraryThing member fingerpost
You can't judge a book by its cover. You can't always judge a book by its synopsis either.
Synopsis: A group of six school children in Holland at some unspecified time in the past, decide they need to put a wagon wheel on the roof of their school so migrating storks will have a place to nest, and will do so in their town, bringing good luck. The entire book is pretty much the story of the kids, and adults that they drag into their scheme, trying to first find a spare wagon wheel, then get it to the school, get it mounted on the roof, and then attract storks. And yet, the book was fun, endearing, and occasionally exciting.
There are no bad guys. A few of the children are benignly naughty, as all children are from time to time. A few of the adults are cranky or short-tempered, as all adults are from time to time, but you always know everyone is good. Whereas most YA books seem to be about family, friendship, or both, this book is more about community and cooperation. What can happen when everyone works together towards a common goal.
It was the 1955 Newbery winner, and I have to wonder if it seemed old fashioned even then. It does now, but in a good way. And although set in Holland, this is not one of those Newbery winners that seem primarily trying to teach another country's life and culture to American children. The story is about things all children will relate to.
I'm not sure who today's audience would be. It seems rather long to engage many 3rd or 4th graders, but they would probably enjoy it the most. Today's middle schooler would probably find it rather naively sweet and therefore something to scoff at. But this 52 year old enjoyed it.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
What a lovely little book. As the teacher says, "sometimes when we wonder, we can make things begin to happen." This small story of six children who wonder about storks and then begin to change their village life discover friends where there weren't any before and bring their village together.




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