Form and Content
Excitement mounts from the first page of The Wheel on the School, which was written by Meindert De Jong and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. When Lina reads her essay about storks, the teacher asks the class to wonder why there are none in Shora. He gives them the afternoon off to discover something about storks, telling them that “sometimes when we wonder, we can make things begin to happen.” Some students take their assignment more seriously than others, but something does begin to happen when Lina learns from Grandmother Sibble both that storks had nested in Shora when she was a girl and that an old woman can be her friend. The children conclude that storks would need trees in the long run and, more immediately, since the birds are returning from Africa, a wheel so that they could nest on a sharp roof. School is again dismissed early so that the children can look for a wheel “where one is and where one isn’t.”
The following chapters are structured like spokes as the children fan out from Shora looking for wheels. Jella, the biggest boy, “borrows” one from a farmer but is caught by the irate man. The twins Pier and Dirk, having no luck on their road, decide that a closed-off courtyard that hides Shora’s cherry tree and its mean, legless owner, who keeps boys away with his pile of stones, is “where a wheel isn’t.” Their scheme, failing when Janus catches them, is transformed as they learn from the man how he lost his legs....
(The entire section is 549 words.)