The Red Bicycle
written by Jude Isabella; illustrated by Simone Shin
2015 (Kids Can Press)
Source: Orange County Public Library
But there is no hint that a girl pedaled along dirt roads carting goods to market or that a boy once whipped around a small North American town on the red bicycle.
Leo has been working for two years to save enough money to buy a bicycle. He buys Big Red and takes it everywhere. When he grows taller, Leo realizes that he will have to part with Big Red. At the same bike shop where he made his initial purchase, Leo finds a place to donate his beloved two-wheeler. A group is giving bicycles to families in Burkina Faso. When Big Red arrives in Africa, the bike is adored by Alisetta. She learns to ride it right away and puts the bike to use. Having this bicycle allows Alisetta to go early in the morning and chase the birds away from her family's sorghum plot. Now they produce more than ever and have more money. Alisetta can also ride Big Red to village markets and sell items that she and her grandmother have made. One day, Alisetta goes to the city to purchase a new bike with money she has made. When she arrives back home with a new green bike, she finds out that Big Red has been damaged. Fortunately, Alisetta meets Boukary who is looking for bikes to use at his medical clinic. Boukary fixes up Big Red who is turned into an ambulance. Big Red's days of service continue.
I appreciate being able to share picture and chapter books that are set in Africa. It allows my students to see a part of the world that is unfamiliar to most of them. I also welcome books that show children being industrious. Leo and Alisetta are children who work hard to earn money and seek to pass on their good fortune to others. That's a great lesson for young children and one I could have used. I see reading The Red Bicycle for a unit on economics or one on kindness. It will give your class a perspective on how important bicycles are to many cultures around the world.