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April 30, 2015

Picture Book Review: The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella
In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name -- Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle's story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle -- renamed Le Grand Rouge -- delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.

This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean.

Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin's digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of Alisetta's and Haridata's communities in rural Africa, creating vivid comparisons between Leo's life and their lives. Youngsters will learn how different the world is for those who rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation, and how one ordinary bicycle -- and a child's desire to make a difference -- can change lives across the world. This book also offers an excellent opportunity for expanding character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy to include the wider world.
Honestly, it's the first time I listen about bicycle's donations. Probably wouldn't have ever known if it wasn't for this book. It's such a great idea, to donate your bicycle to needed communities, where a bicycle is more than a transportation system but also a tool for work, or even an ambulance!

It's a short book as most of the picture books, but you can follow the amazing journey of a red bicycle from USA to Burkina Faso. I used to have a red bicycle, and when it was too small for me I gave it away to one of my father's coworkers for his son for Christmas. I always wanted a new bike, I imagined myself on Sundays just enjoying the wind and the sun while driving my bike, but now I see bikes in a whole new light. At the end of the book there is a list of places you could contact for bike donations it you have some bikes you don't use more.

It has beautiful illustrations by Simone Shin, and being a non-fiction story, not only children will enjoy it but also learn a way to help communities in need around the world.

Published March 1st 2015 by Kids Can Press
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1 comment:

  1. What a neat idea! I also used to have a red bike *high fives*, but I gave it away to a cousin who didn't have the means to purchase a brand new one. Now every time I go and visit him (far off rural community) it's always there. I sometimes ride it for a bit even though it's ridiculously small for me now.
    Anyway, this sounds like a wonderful children's book. Lovely illustrations too. ;)