…an engineer.

Author: Kathryn Gibbs Davis
Illustrator:  Gilbert Ford

When I grow up, I want to be an engineer.

Oh, was there any greater summer excitement than the county fair?  Eating taffy apples, wasting money trying to win a stuffed bear and riding the tilt-a-whirl until you were sick were all such fun. But the best part of the entire fair was gazing up into the night sky at the immense twinkling, spinning circle that would thrill you with a ride up into the heavens – the ferris wheel.

Here’s the true, uplifting story of George Ferris and his dazzling unlikely invention – an invention that would become the world’s most magical ride of all time.

It was a bizarre idea, presented by an eccentric young engineer. Yes, it might be showy, but wouldn’t the flimsy contraption collapse?  Wouldn’t it be undignified? Or frightening?

Finally, the young inventor was told he could try – but only with his own money and with barely enough time.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Through perseverance and determination, George and his construction crew frantically worked to complete their project.  In 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, George Ferris’s wheel became a magical glowing circle with 3,000 glowing electric light bulbs.  The Queen of the Midway continues to thrill thousands every year.

Mary Byrne Kline

Want to know more?

This segment from INVENTED, ENGINEERED & PIONEERED IN PITTSBURGH was produced by WQED in cooperation with the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania.
How can you create a structure that will be just as impressive and maybe even more amazing than the Eiffel Tower? That was the problem in 1892 when plans were being finalized for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A young engineer who was working in Pittsburgh came up with an idea for a huge rotating wheel that would lift its passengers up into the sky and then revolve to set them back on the ground. It was the first and in many ways the most impressive of the great wheels: the Ferris Wheel.



When I grow up…

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Did you actually become a policeman, geologist, fireman, teacher, mom, or astronaut?  This month’s book list is all about childhood dreams and becoming adults who continue to grow and dream.    We are excited to bring you some new finds we know will become favorites in your home and/or classroom.

Some of my favorite books as a child were from the Childhood of Great American series.  I can still see the orange covers with black silhouettes, lined side by side in my classroom bookcase.  As I read through the entire series from left to right, I came to believe that if the children in those books could grow up to impact the world in their own unique way, then maybe so could I.

Read biographies to your children to show how those who work hard can do remarkable things.  Feel free to download the list below and take it with you as you visit your local library.  And don’t forget to  check in with us often here at FirefliesBlog as we review several of our absolute favorites this month.

One more thing… look what I recently found yesterday in an antique bookstore – one of my “one friends”.  I can’t wait to share it with my littles.

Download BOOKLIST .pdf



Snow Dance

Author:  Lezlie Evans
Illustrator:  Cynthia Jabar

How do I find a great book?  Oh so many ways…  Usually I walk into an out-of-the-way independent bookstore or gift shop with children’s books, head the children’s section and park there for awhile anticipating that I will meet a new friend; a treasure.  But sometimes I read a short review about a book, take a chance and simply order it with fingers crossed.  Snow Dance by Lezlie Evans was ordered with crossed fingers and arrived today.

First of all, it’s a perfect fit for our theme – All Things Snow.  It is all a wonderful fit for those of you who are following us on Heritage 2 Legacy.  I don’t know who recommended Snow Dance to me, but I’m so glad I took a chance and ordered it for my home library.  If interested, you will probably have to purchase it used  – but it is worth it.

The author’s uses a melodic verse to celebrate winter and specifically, snow. Evan’s rhyming words will get your heart pumping and your feet jumping…”Skipping, prancing happy dancing hoping snow will come our way, We are whirling swirling, twirling begging flakes to come and stay.” perfectly capture the joy of a day spent outside in the snow.  Do you have those memories?

My children were both born in Florida, but my childhood memories are from the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania.   It was very important to me to have my son and daughter be able to understand what it means to enjoy a day of “snow dancing”.

  • Snow day – cancelled school!
  • building forts
  • tracks in fresh snow
  • the smell of new snow
  • snow ladened branches
  • snow angels
  • sledding
  • snow ball battles (not my favorite as I had 3 older brothers who dominated at this activity)
  • snow in boots and mittens
  • frozen noses (didn’t care)
  • coming home wet and cold to the smell of a fire in the fireplace
  • hot chocolate waiting on the stove
  • peeling off hats, coats, and gloves
  • the sizzling sound of snow crusted gloves being put on the radiator (I’m ancient)

I hope some of these bullet points stirred memories for you – maybe as recently as this past week only with your children or grandchildren.  Through watercolor, Cynthia Jabar playfully portrays the anticipation of snow as well as the fun the snow brings as the children

As the forecast predicts snow, the children sing and dance in hopes it will come. For with snow brings fun and excitement, and a chance for no school! Through watercolor Cynthia Jabar successfully portrays the story.  You feel the children’s joy as snow is forecasted and school is cancelled.  You see the delight the snow brings as the children sled ride, make snow angels, and then return to the warmth of their own home.

It’s simply the perfect book to read-aloud to one special child or a group of eager story-time listeners.


Fresh Apple Bars with Snowy Topping

Introducing SNOW!

3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup oil

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

2 cups diced apples
1 cup nuts (optional)
powdered sugar (“snow”) for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, sugar and oil together. Add sifted dry ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts and pour into a greased and floured 9″x13″ pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. When done, let your child sprinkle with “snow” (powdered sugar) and cut into bars.

Today seemed like a great day to try out our recipe (It’s 18 degrees out…).

Measuring just so…

Stir and stir some more. And always have a pink princess pen close by in case you have to make changes to the recipe.

I’m thinking this is going to be delicious. (We used Honey Crisp apples)

The house smells DIVINE! Now it is time for some snow!!

All together now…  Let it snow – let it snow – let it snow!

Maybe we overdid it a bit on the powdered sugar – but we were having so much watching it “snow”!

DELICIOUS… Absolutely delicious!  (And just the right amount of…snow.)