Frazee, M. (2003). Roller Coaster. New York: Harcourt, Inc.
As a picturebook, Roller Coaster introduces its reader to the process of riding a roller coaster, from waiting in line before, to the rules about height, to the decision over whether to scream and hold up your arms, to having wobbly legs after. While a number of different types of people choose to ride the roller coaster (and some decide not to at the last moment), the reader is most closely positioned with a young girl who is riding for the first time.
The illustrations are entertaining. I was especially amused by the stereotypical tough guys who appear a wee bit nauseous at the end of the ride. But the illustrations also show hats falling away from the roller coaster riders and birds snapping to pick them up. I also liked the two page spread that showed the entire roller coaster's path. A teacher or parent could encourage a student to trace the path with their finger.
Activities to Do with the Book:
A great book to introduce readers to their first roller coaster, it eases children into the experience instead of say...a mother and father not telling their daughter how fast the ride would go and then allowing her to ping-pong back and forth between their bodies as she sits in complete terror. Don't worry. She eventually got over it. I loves me my roller coasters.
A teacher could also introduce some of the science behind how roller coasters work, considering both the mechanical and physical aspects.
Of course, a teacher could also allow students to take some time and draw (or construct in a video game) their ideal/perfect roller coaster, even if it defies gravity and does loops around the moon.
Also, since the child who has never ridden a roller coaster before is never explicitly identified by the text (although it is implied by the illustrations), the readers can engage in a guessing game of who they think the first-time rider is.
“All of these people are waiting in line for the roller coaster."
"At least one of them has never ridden on a roller coaster before."
"S-l-o-w-l-y the train is pulled up the hill by a chain. Clckity, clackity, clickity, clackity. Up. Up. Up. And then...WHOOSH!"