Last years’ swimsuit is way too small for you now.
You’ve outgrown most of your summer clothes, in fact, and you’ve given them away;
you can’t wear them anymore, so someone else may as well use them. But clothing isn’t
the only thing you can hand-me-down. In the new book “The Red Bicycle” by Jude
Isabella, illustrated by Simone Shin, one boy’s outgrown bike becomes another child’s
Leo had been saving his money for two entire years. Every time someone gave him
money, he put it in the bank because there was one thing he wanted more than anything: a
shiny red bicycle that sat in the bike shop. Once he had enough saved, he bought the bike
and named it Big Red.
Big Red took Leo everywhere. They went to school and to the park and to work, until the
day when Leo was too tall to ride his bicycle anymore. He needed a bigger bike and,
knowing that he wanted to do something special, he donated Big Red to a program that
sent his bike to Africa.
Almost a month later, near the coast of Ghana, Awa Sawadogo took her granddaughter,
Alisetta, to bicycle distribution day. Alisetta looked at green bikes and orange bikes and
bikes with fat tires. Though she’d never ridden a bicycle before, the one Alisetta wanted
was red. Once she learned to ride it, it was perfect for getting to around – until the day a
village pig ran into the bike and there was no money for repairs.
A broken bicycle was no problem for Boukary, a health-care worker at a nearby clinic,
who told Alisetta that her bike would make a sturdy ambulance. He carted it away,
repaired it and gave it new paint. Then he added a long trailer on the back of the red
bicycle and put it to work.
At the hospital, Haridata, a volunteer, set off on the red bicycle to fetch a sick little boy
who was brought back for treatment. Over the years, she became “a legend in the villages
around the clinic,” both for her care and for her bicycle.
And today – who knows? The bike that the village children called “Le Grande Rouge”
might still be ridden somewhere…
Is getting rid of a long-loved (but quite outgrown) possession a challenge in your house?
“The Red Bicycle” might help move you in the right direction – although a good story
with muted illustrations isn’t all you’ll find here.
At the end of this book, author Jude Isabella and illustrator Simone Shin give parents and
teachers more information: additional books they can read on this subject and, more
importantly, information on donating your child’s outgrown bike to a good program. Kids
will also see photos of refurbished, donated bikes in action, and they’ll learn how to help
people half a world away.
While you certainly could read this book to a toddler, I think it’s a better choice for
children ages 9-to-13. Give them “The Red Bicycle” for a lesson they’ll never outgrow.
“The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle” by Jude Isabella,
illustrated by Simone Shin
c.2015, Kids Can Press $18.95 / $19.95 Canada 32 pages