It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). 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.
I found these two picturebooks while searching for titles at the Zayed Central Library. While I have read about these two books previously, I have not had a chance to read them yet, until now. I like that both stories demonstrate how owning a bicycle can, on occasion, put a child in a moral conundrum (first story) or be the key to otherworldly places as found in one’s colourful imagination (second story).
A Bike Like Sergio’s [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Maribeth Boelts Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
Published by Candlewick Press (2016)
ISBN: 0763666491 (ISBN13: 9780763666491). Literary Award: Charlotte Zolotow Award (2017). Borrowed from Zayed Central Library Al Ain. Book photos taken by me.
This story demonstrates a clear moral dilemma about a boy named Ruben who wanted, as the title indicates, a bike like his friend, Sergio’s. However, times are hard and despite the fact that his birthday is just around the corner, Ruben knows that the birthday gifts that his friend Sergio usually receives are worlds different from what his own parents can afford. And so when he accidentally picked up money that dropped out of a lady’s purse in the grocery store, he is presented with a dilemma of whether he should return it or use it to buy the bike that he always wanted. While the narrative is presented with measured subtlety, I find that I rarely resonate with stories with a clear edict, and what may be construed as didactic content. Despite this, I also recognize the value of stories such as these with explicit moral values articulated to serve as potential teachable moments for young children.
The Patchwork Bike [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Maxine Beneba Clarke Illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
Published by Hachette Australia (2016)
ISBN: 0734416687 (ISBN13: 9780734416681). Literary Awards: Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended (2019), Crichton Award (2017), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book (2019). Borrowed from Zayed Central Library Al Ain. Book photos taken by me.
The story opens with a young child introducing their “mud-for-walls home” in a matter of fact manner. No drama, no fanfare, no reader manipulation. The child introduces us next to her two brothers, and this is where the mischief begins.
It was not until I read the Author’s Note that I discovered that this cool kid with the fluorescent green shirt and sunglasses and lovely dreads was a girl. I suspected it, but I was still pleasantly surprised when my guess was confirmed. The portrayal was so androgynous and so ingeniously done that I could not help but mention it as well in this feature.
The entire story is uplifting, irreverent, and filled with energy. The Afterword written by both the author and the illustrator is also illuminating as it speaks of their influences, their background, and the visual codes embedded in the narrative. Definitely a must-read and must-have.
#ReadIntl2020 Update: 15 of 30 (country): Australia
(Both author and illustrator of The Patchwork Bike are POC from Australia)