Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Red Bicycle, by Jude Isabella, illustrated by Simone Shin

What happens to that old bike you've outgrown or gotten tired of?  As Jude Isabella's story The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle tells, it could transform a community!  Like many kids, Leo saved up for a bike.  He named it Big Red.  He loved it and rode it everywhere, but eventually outgrew it.  The owner of the bike shop told him he could donate it to be shipped to Africa.

In Africa, Alisetta picked out Big Red for herself.  She rode it all over her village in Burkina Faso.  With more efficient transportation, she was able to help her family, checking on crops, carrying harvest to market, eventually making enough extra money to send her siblings to school.  Later the medical clinic hooks a trailer to Big Red to use it as an ambulance.

Isabella's text tells the story well, adding in enough cultural and economic details to convey the importance of Big Red to those who use it.  Simone Shin's illustrations capture the simple beauty of life in Burkina Faso.  At the end, Isabella adds photographs of real people using their bikes in Africa, and explains how kids in North America can get involved by donating their bikes.

The Red Bicycle is a great story, made better by encouraging kids that they can make the story come true by donating their old bikes.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary review copy!

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