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[Monday Reading] Picturebooks on How Bicycles can Transform Lives in “The Red Bicycle” and “My Rows and Piles Of Coins”


Myra here.

I am glad to be back in Singapore and posting for It’s Monday, What are You Readinga meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the rest of the year.


Here is the sign up page and the July-August linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of The Dark Wild by Piers Torday courtesy of Pansing Books.


Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.


I like how these two picturebooks demonstrate how children can be active agents of social change through sheer determination, responsible decision making, and a sense of efficacy that goes beyond the self but one that is of service to family and community.

IMG_2708The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle

Written by: Jude Isabella Illustrated by: Simone Shin
Published by: Citizen Kid, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a young White boy named Leo on his way to purchase his much-coveted red bicycle that he saved up for. Big Red as he called his bike, was his companion for a long time until the time that it was clear that he outgrew it.


Leo wanted to give it to someone who would take care of it as much as he did over the years. The bike shop owner suggested that he donate it to an organization that collects bicycles to send to the faraway city of Burkina Faso in Africa where well-loved bicycles such as Big Red would find a new home.


True enough, Big Red found its way into the hands of Alisetta who rides it to field early in the morning to scare off the birds that feast on their produce called the sorghum: “Thanks to Big Red, they harvest more sorghum than usual.” It also has a ripple effect such that with the extra income they obtained and the convenience afforded by having a bicycle that transports items to the village market, the family is now able to send Alisetta’s younger brother and sister to school.


When a pig accidentally broke Big Red’s spokes, Alisetta gave the broken bicycle to Boukary who works at “a medical clinic that sends health workers on bicycles to visit sick people in villages without doctors or nurses.” Since Big Red has been well-maintained, it didn’t take long to fix it, as it eventually took on its new role as a bicycle ambulance.

While the book is more wordy than the usual picture books and could have been made shorter for younger readers, I thought that it provided valuable information about how the little things that children often take for granted can actually serve to save lives in other places. It provides perspective on the important things in life. Teachers would also be happy to note that there is an extensive backmatter that provides more information about Burkina Faso in Africa and what young readers can do to help.


My Rows and Piles Of CoinsIMG_2715

Written by: Tololwa M. Mollel Illustrated by: E. B. Lewis
Published by: Clarion Books, 1999
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The setting of this story is in Tanzania where the reader is introduced to a young boy named Saruni, who at the beginning of the story was given five whole ten-cent coins by her mother to buy something for himself, after a good day at the market.


Overwhelmed by the amount of goods and delicacies that he could get at the market, Saruni decided to save his money because he wanted something even better: a bicycle so that it would be easier for him to assist his mother during market work on Saturdays. His father, Murete, has been helping him learn how to ride a bicycle, and although he struggled a fair bit, he was determined to learn:

IMG_2718This picturebook is a wonderful testament to a child’s persistence, goal-driven aspirations, and quiet hard work that was brought about by a child’s own initiative. It was this young boy’s selflessness that caught me and made me smile how this “richest boy in the world” with hard earned coins in his pocket worked and saved tirelessly, depriving himself of things he wanted, to purchase something his family needed.


While books like these could tread the line of being moralistic or didactic, I thought that this was beautifully handled with authenticity that resonates with any reader. The Author’s Note also indicates how the author grew up in Northern Tanzania with information about how having a bicycle for essential transportation can transform the lives of many families in this region.

Currently Reading…

I just arrived here in Singapore from Heathrow four hours ago. I am grateful to Fats and Iphigene for posting during my two week absence as I was gallivanting around Europe (Munich/Salzburg) and the UK (Birmingham/London). I did manage to read a few books while I was away.


This was my night time read while I was in Munich and finished it before I left for Birmingham: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley.

Since I had to take the train to get to the University of Worcester from the Birmingham airport, and once again take the train from Birmingham to Paddington Station in London where I stayed for four days, I thought that this girl on the train should definitely read The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.


I was unsure whether to take this novel with me for my carry-on canvas bag since I have yet to finish The Girl on the Train while I was on my 12-hour layover in Mumbai enroute to Singapore. Thank book heavens I did as my macbook air has long since conked out on me (ergo, I can’t work on powerpoint slides and upcoming presentations) and I have long since finished Paula Hawkins readable thriller. I am now halfway through Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun.


I also hope to finish reading Jaleigh Johnson’s The Mark Of The Dragonfly in time for our GatheringReaders book club discussion on Sunday at the Jurong West Public Library.


My Rows and Piles Of Coins: Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book

#AWBRead2015 Update: 64 (35)

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] Picturebooks on How Bicycles can Transform Lives in “The Red Bicycle” and “My Rows and Piles Of Coins”

  1. bluestockingthinking

    Oh, I thought of a bike story I have: Bikes For Rent by Isaac Olayleye and Chris Damarest. “Thank book heaven” is the best phrase 😉 We should be using it more often!


  2. This is always my fear – that I didn’t pack enough books for my trip. 😉 Glad you had plenty to read. I loved Circus Mirandus.


  3. I loved The Red Bicycle, and it seems that Rows and Rows of Coins is an excellent pairing, Myra! Thanks for reminding about it! Hope you had a wonderful trip!


  4. The Red Bicycle was a surprise read for me – I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would!
    I still need to read Girl on a Train…..
    Circus Mirandus was one of my favorites of this year.


  5. Two books to open the eyes of children (and adults) Myra! I’ll be looking for both. I hope you loved Mirandus – I did, such a fabulous flight of fancy!


  6. Loved The Red Bicycle. Thank you for the intro to the other.
    Glad you enjoyed Circus Mirandus! Enjoy I’ll Give You The Sun also–one of my favorite YA books of 2014!

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    P.S. Your vacation looks/sounded amazing!!


  7. I just made a book display about bikes. There are so many this year. You picked some great books for vacation reading!


  8. Wow! Lots of great books on your list this week. Those two about the bicycles sound great. And how cool to read The Girl on the Train on the train! Have a great week.


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