Young readers and listeners will feel like cheering when this unprepossessing hero gets his due.
Davies’ signature caricature art lends itself perfectly to an exaggerated visual accompaniment for this earnest, simple and sweet tale of a boy, his bike and a bully. Ben’s great new bike takes him by any route he likes to school, including the long one over hill and dale, hopping across a stream on the heads of what look like sharks, leaping a line of school buses. But, alas, arrival at school only means that Adrian Underbite (“perhaps the world’s largest third-grader”) makes off with Ben’s bike. When Ben later finds Adrian in “a significant spot of trouble,” both readers and Ben may find that doing the right thing is not the first thought that comes to mind. “How extraordinarily terrible,” Ben muses sardonically. There are a few tense moments in the brief narrative when it seems that no good deed will go unpunished, but a familiar story emerges—spoiler here: A bully has a change of heart—and it becomes astonishingly fresh and fun in Davies’ hands. Davies’ cheeky, cheerfully frayed line gives readers figures somewhat larger than life—and indeed twice as natural. Ben’s hasty, heroic hoodie rescue is dramatic and funny, and the last line and accompanying illustration will provoke out-loud laughter.
Great amusement for the bold and timid alike. (Picture book. 4-8)