A little girl in a ginormous blue-striped helmet chooses a bike, practices lots and, aided by a patient, daddy-esque (perhaps granddaddy-esque) guy in a green tie, learns to ride.
The gentle text (in elegant Bodoni Old Face) offers pithy encouragement. “Let’s go! / Watch everyone ride. / They all learned how. / Come on, let’s give it a try. / Training wheels are helpful. They keep you from tipping over.” Raschka’s watercolors, in a palette of green, blue, gray, ocher and red, convey humor and movement in economical, expressive vignettes. On one spread, the girl gazes at many riders: twins on a tandem bike, a woman in a red swimsuit, a cat riding in a back-fender basket and a man in Hasidic garb, payos flying. On another, no fewer than 11 spots show the girl wobbling and zooming, sans training wheels; the green-tie guy alternately steadies her course and flies behind in pursuit as she improves. The man’s elongated head bows toward the girl in Chagall-like studies of empathy, while her bow-shaped mouth and black braids convey a cute that’s never cloying. Some compositions are encased in softly rounded rectangles; others pop against the creamy matte ground. The paper’s minute gold flecks lend a lovely, subtle sparkle to the bright, thin washes.
A wry, respectful ode to a rite of passage that’s both commonplace and marvelous. This is one fun ride! (Picture book. 3-6)