A bear learns to skate and defeats a bully in a race in author/illustrator Wilberforce’s debut picture book.
When rollerblading rabbit Kari says that Barry is too big to skate fast, the brown bear is determined to prove her wrong. But when he attempts, Barry falls and feels humiliated as other animals laugh. Kari tells Barry that he’s too slow to race her. Barry feels dejected, and a skilled skater monkey named Fast Tommy offers to help him train. With Tommy’s advice and encouragement, Barry gains confidence. His skating improves, and he masters a challenging move called the “Power Boost,” in which he picks up speed by dipping and then soaring high. He later wins the race by using the move. Barry is elated, and Tommy is proud of his pupil. Readers will root for the affable protagonist’s success as he faces ups and downs in his skating and overcomes doubts. Tommy’s instructions, which emphasize focusing on learning instead of on the unknown outcome, may be helpful to children with their own athletic goals. The full-color, cartoonish illustrations include comic book–like details, such as puffs of dust indicating fast movement and panels showing Barry’s skating progress. Some words, like “SMACK!!” are emphasized in capital letters that make for easy reading.
An affirmative anthropomorphic story emphasizing perseverance and practice.