On this day in 1961, the first Six Flags amusement park opened in Arlington, TX. The Texan who lives with me informs me it was called Six Flags because six flags have flown over Texas--Spain, Mexico, France, Texas, US, Confederacy, and the US again. (He actually refers to the Confederate period as "that unpleasantness in the 1860s." He did not, however, follow it with the usual lecture about how Sam Houston's political downfall was because he was anti-succession.) Six Flags was later sold and turned into a company that expanded across the country.
Anyway, to celebrate, here's a bunch of books about amusement parks and rides. (And some spooky photos of Six Flags New Orleans, which closed for Katrina and never reopened.
Dunk by David Lubar. Chad wants to be Bozo-- the clown that sits in the dunk tank, calling out barbed comments to passersby. He figures it'll be a good way to work out his anger, but it's harder than it looks, and there are other things going on about to make his summer a lot harder.
A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard. Skip is a teen runaway, his best friend is the homeless Billy. When war breaks out, they and a few others seek refuge in the House of Horrors of a now-abandoned amusement park. But the bombs and soldiers can find them there, too.
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. In this sequel/companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Gabry helps her mother clear the beach of the Mudo [zombies] after high tide. One night, she sneaks outside the barriers of town, to the ruins of the old amusement park. Disaster strikes. Gabry gets away, but her friends that survive are severely punished. She goes back to look for Catcher, who is one of the missing, and what happens pushes Gabry, her mother, and others back into the Forest,
Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler. This sweet story told in alternating voices takes place at Disney World, when the actors have gone on strike and high school students have to fill in. Luke plays Dale (as in Chip and Dale) and Ella is Cinderella. Lots of fun backstage action (princesses aren't allowed to eat, character heads are crazy heavy).
Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall. Amy is sick of her family and her life. While they vacation with a family friend on the Jersey shore, Amy finds a job against her mother's wishes as one of the mermaids at Mermaid Park. Over the course of the summer, she learns the truth about her family and herself. Plus, I get a chance to link to this photoessay of the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Park in Florida.
Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin. After a biological attack kills all the adults, the children left at the amusement park form a new society, sealing themselves off from the outside world.
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin. Justin and Emmy both have severe issues-- severe enough to land them at Heartland--a place that cares. There isn't an amusement park, but there is a really great night at the fair, and the bit with the Ferris Wheel might be my favorite part in the entire book.
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer. Zoe and her cousin Jess are interning at Fairyland, hoping to win Dream and Do grants. But the girls get the worst jobs, and life behind the scenes may be full of glitter, but it's also cut-throat and brutal.
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando. Ten years after her mother died, Jane moves into the house her mother grew up in on Coney Island. There, she finds the secrets of her mother's mermaid past, the remnants of her grandmothers pristine vintage clothing collection, and a group of people she might just be able to call friends.
What are your favorite books about amusement parks?
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