BIKES FOR RENT! by Isaac Olaleye


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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Realistically conveying the close affinity of boys for bikes anywhere in the world, Olaleye (In the Rainfield, 2000) also introduces the young reader to a small slice of village life in contemporary western Nigeria. Lateef, a spunky young boy, wants to rent a bike, but doesn’t have the wherewithal to do so, until he starts earning his own money by selling mushrooms and firewood. He starts off on a small bike, but won’t rest until he is allowed to rent the big, shiny, red one, the pride of the fleet. As usual, a boy’s derring-do leads to a fall and Lateef has a doozy. In order to repay the bike-owner, Lateef offers to work for him. He pays his debt honorably and builds a bike of his own from spare parts. Demarest’s (Someday We’ll Have Very Good Manners, 2000, etc.) energetic watercolors, warm in tone with yellow skies and brown skins, roads and clothing, impart a modest sense of life in an African country, but there are not enough specific details here in either text or pictures to satisfy a child’s curiosity. Although the illustrator paints women in traditional clothing, his generalized depictions do not reflect the fabrics used or the head coverings worn. The text uses a few onomatopoetic words to quicken the tempo: “Bump! Thump! Whomp!”—but this device is not enough to give the story a true voice. Ifeoma Onyefulu’s photo essays, such as Ogbo: Sharing Life in an African Village (1996) give a stronger picture of life in Nigeria, while Tollolwa M. Mollel’s My Rows and Piles of Coins (1999), set in Tanzania, is a more effective story about a boy who must earn money to buy a bicycle. Pleasant, but pedestrian. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-531-30290-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2001


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