Carousel Odessey Story

In Hengen’s “as told to” story, two Looff “jumpers” tell about their creation in immigrant carousel-maker Charles Looff’s Brooklyn factory during the Gay Nineties. They relive their train ride to an amusement park in the Midwest, where they will spend the first quarter century of their lives delighting children by giving thousands of rides.


Reviewer Bette Largent, former children’s librarian, currently Spokane’s well-known carousel horse restoration artist and former president of the National Carousel Association writes, “This is an important book that will offer our children the opportunity to learn about the history of the carousel. Some day, when we are gone, they will have to take our place and resume the task of preserving this functional form of American folk art.”
Mrs. Largent continues, “Hengen’s book is an amazing entertainment. The illustrations are breathtaking. It is a perfect ‘read aloud’ book for children who have watched all the DVDs, played all the computer games, and felt bored on a warm summer day or even a cold winter night. It is a book that turns on the switch of imagination that can’t be activated by many of today’s entertainments.
If you like Nona’s book you will lover her 2022 Carousel Odyssey Calendar.


When the Great Depression spreads its tentacles over the country and amusement parks are forced into bankruptcy, the carousel horses are marooned in a barn in backwoods Indiana, and finally thrown out on a woodpile for firewood. Discovered by an antique dealer combing the countryside during a rebirth of interest in carousels, the old wooden horses are seen as highly collectible relics from a romantic past.
While neglect and decay doomed the majority of wood horse carousels in amusement parks during the Great Depression, there were other causes endangering their existence. Concessions in amusement parks were steam-powered; a spark thrown by an engine could, if caught by a breeze, explode into an inferno that would burn an entire park down in a matter of minutes.
Reader Thelma Balden of Buffalo, Wyoming found herself inextricably drawn into the life story told by the horses in Hengen’s narrative and paintings. Commenting on the illustrations, she wrote, “There is such a glint in the horses’ eyes, I almost expect them to jump off the page and land in my lap!”