A daring girl in a desert village enjoys riding her brother’s bike made of recycled materials in this unusual picture book by Clarke and political artist Rudd, an Australian import.
A young girl with dark skin, cornrows, and shiny sunglasses, wearing shorts, sneakers, and a T-shirt, introduces readers to “the village where we live inside our mud-for-walls home,” her “crazy brothers” who dance atop a police car, and her “fed-up mum,” who looks elegant in a white hijab and dress. The narrator shows readers the sand hill and the “big Fiori tree” where they play boisterously. “But the best thing of all in our village is me and my brothers’ bike.” The bike’s pieces are composed of a bucket seat, tin-can handlebars, wood-cut wheels, and other spare parts; the flag is a flour sack, and the bell is Mum’s milk pot. The license plate—a piece of bark—has “BLM” painted on it, a political statement that echoes an earlier image of the narrator’s brothers playing atop a junked police car. It’s a rugged ride over sand hills and fields and straight through the home (which perhaps explains why Mum is so fed up), and Rudd’s urban artwork is a fitting way to show it. Over a cardboard background, streaks of paint define the people, objects, and movements that make up the girl’s world. The kids in motion on their bike are rendered in an artful smear that evokes speed. The dark, bright, and desert hues create a blazing-hot world readers can almost step right into.
Showcasing the fun to be had in a spare world, this book is just what many of us need right now. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-9)