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THE RED BICYCLE by Jude Isabella


The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle

by Jude Isabella ; illustrated by Simone Shin

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-77138-023-2
Publisher: Kids Can

When Leo outgrows his beloved red bicycle, he sends it to Burkina Faso, where it takes on new lives.

This addition to the publisher’s CitizenKid collection follows the journey of an 18-speed bicycle from its first owner, a North American boy, to a country where bicycles are more useful than cars. Its new owner, Alisetta, can now get quickly to her fields and take sorghum and other goods to market, enriching the lives of her family. After a small disaster that renders it useless to the family, the bicycle is refurbished as an ambulance. A third owner, Haridata, brings patients to a medical clinic. The wordy narrative appears to focus on the bicycle, but perhaps because the writer tries to include as many details as possible about life in Burkina Faso, her story never comes alive. Each spread includes a summary line, which would be useful for read-alouds were it not printed nearly invisibly against the background illustration. Shin’s digitally composed illustrations include vignettes, full-page images and occasional double-page spreads. Details of clothing and the characters’ bike-related activities are clearly depicted. One helpful spread shows the bike’s shipboard path superimposed on a simple world map. The backmatter includes suggestions for readers to involve themselves in bicycle donation and a note for parents and teachers.

Well-meant but more didactic than entertaining. (Informational picture book. 8-10)