The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
This follow up to The Boy and the Airplane features a girl who is longing for a new green bike that she sees in a shop window when walking with her little brother. But she doesn’t have enough money for it, even after emptying her piggy bank, digging through pockets in the laundry and looking under the couch cushions. She even tries selling lemonade and her toys. That autumn, she has another idea to make money and finds someone willing to pay her for raking leaves. She continues to do chores for them through the winter and into the next summer. Finally, she has enough money for the bicycle. But when she gets to the store, the bike is gone. Don’t worry, her hard work will pay off in the end!
Pett has a touch for wordless picture books. The subtle humor throughout also helps make the book very readable and approachable for children. They will relate to the longing for a new toy and through this book will learn about the power of resilience, hard work and patience.
Pett’s subjects could easily veer into saccharine qualities, but that is nicely avoided thanks to his deft timing throughout the book and the way that the sweet endings come with real sacrifice and work on the part of the characters. His illustrations have a vintage feel but also a modern cartoon aspect. Done in sepia tones, the dark green of the bike pops clearly on the page.
A wordless book for slightly older preschoolers, this book is a rewarding read. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka
The two-time Caldecott Medalist returns with another exceptional picture book. In this book, a little girl learns to ride a bike. She first picks out the bike she wants to try, then watches other people ride their bikes. The training wheels are very helpful, keeping her upright and they steadily are moved upward so that she can start to balance on her own. Training wheels off, she tries riding in the grass but when she heads down a small hill, she tips over. It takes a lot of courage to get back on again and again and again after tumbling off. But then, suddenly and incredibly, she learns to ride a bicycle on her own!
Written in second-person, the book really allows readers to see themselves as the one riding the bicycle. Raschka’s text is simple and effective, encouraging readers to give it a try. When the tumbling begins, Raschka starts talking about courage, sure to inspire young readers to see that quality in themselves both in learning to ride a bicycle and in other endeavors too. As always, the art is the key with Raschka’s picture books. His style is loose and flowing, capturing movement and wobbles with easy watercolor strokes.
A great pick for spring when children are sure to be longing to be out playing in the warmer weather, this book is a quietly inspiring read. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Best Bike Ride Ever by James Proimos and Johanna Wright
All Bonnie has said for seven days is “I want a bike” so when she finally gets a bike on the eighth day, she just can’t wait to try it out. She can’t even wait to be shown how to use a bike, instead she just hops aboard and pedals off. There’s only one problem – she doesn’t know how to stop. She rode her bike over bridges and on top of elephants, between giraffe legs, to the top of the Statue of Liberty and the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately though, she did stop in the end, by falling over. Happily, her parents were there not to scold her but to show her how to use her bike. In fact, Bonnie had the adventure of a lifetime right in her own backyard as sharp eyed children will figure out.
This book is entirely playful from the over-the-top begging for a bike to the wild ride through the entire world to the final twist at the end. Readers will experience their own adventurous ride as they read this book, never knowing quite where Bonnie and the book are heading next. It’s a lot of fun to read!
The illustrations are quirky and bright. Filled with details but never fussy, they have a life to them that adds to the spunk of the book. They are also filled with motion and movement, which makes them all the more enjoyable.
Great fun, this wild ride of a book will have children wishing for their own bike. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.