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Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite
I Am a Gondola by Kelly Phares-Zook is a vibrant picture book about a gondola lift, a type of ride that resembles a cable car and is typically used to transport people in steep or hilly locations or in ski resorts. The gondola is personified as a reliable and hard-working friend or companion who seems to have the best job in the world. It talks about the beauty and the sights and sounds found year round and its accompanying sensory experiences that come from the seasonal changes in the landscape, flora, and fauna and the recreational activities of the humans who occasionally take a ride on it.
Each page has a rhythmic stanza that portrays what the gondola experiences around, above, or below it. Kelly Phares-Zook rhythmically and even vividly describes what the gondola sees and hears using the first-person point of view and she employs repetition and rhyming words to pique children's interest, encourage attentive listening, and even make them anticipate the next word in a stanza. Though the illustrations tend to dominate more than the text, the material is complemented by the book's simple layout and realistic, vivid, and colorful artwork. When you read the story aloud, the appealing illustrations are just as vital as the words. Together with the narrative, they help to create the sense of amazement that the gondola feels with each change of season.
The gondola's enlarged eyes have an expression that makes us think of a child, which is a technique used to also make the child easily relate to the main character. In this case, the gondola appears to have a perpetually optimistic outlook as it experiences seasonal changes, which include the transport of people during the winter ski season to having muddy boots due to the melted snow in the spring. It is a useful book for introducing the different seasons and illustrating how they vary from one another using relatable examples from the beautiful landscape, its inhabitants, and the climatic changes that occur. I am a Gondola is an overall solid picture book investment that's highly recommended for children around the ages 3-8.