In Tanzania, a bicycle lending library provides joy for village schoolchildren.
When the truck full of bicycles arrives at Anna’s school, there aren't quite enough for hardworking Anna to get one, at first, but she helps her friends learn to ride, and on their way home, she gets her turn. In A Good Trade, illustrated by Karen Patkau (2013), Fullerton showed how much a barefoot Ugandan boy might treasure a pair of new shoes. Here, she returns to rural southern Africa with a similarly understated story about another kind of need. The truck comes from the local bicycle repair shop, and it’s labeled “Bicycle Library.” True to the spirit of the loan, the bikes it brings are shared and offer both entertainment and relatively efficient transportation. Oil paintings in rich shades of orange show the children surrounded by clouds of dust. While accurately depicting the countryside, these may have too few details for American readers to successfully visualize Anna’s world. But they show well, and the simple text reads aloud smoothly, making the book a good introduction for a discussion of different yet similar lives. An author’s note, appropriate for adults sharing this story with children, explains the need for bicycles in southern African countries and provides the names of organizations that work to fill that need.
A nice addition to primary-grade “values” collections. (Picture book. 5-8)