November 19, 2017

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Few elements of childhood evoke as many nostalgia-tinged memories as the bicycle. These two recent picture books present an entirely new and unexpected spin on this beloved childhood possession. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah tells the story of a Ghanaian boy who learns to cycle despite a disability, growing up to cycle 400 miles across his country to raise awareness for disabilities, while The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle demonstrates the global impact of donating bicycles.

theredbicycleIsabella, Jude. The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle. illus. by Simone Shin. 32p. (CitizenKid). Kids Can. Mar. 2015. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771380232.

Gr 3-6 –Part of Kids Can’s globally themed series, this tale of the journey of one bicycle imparts important lessons on recycling and social responsibility. After Leo outgrows his beloved childhood bike, Big Red, he donates it to an organization that ships bikes overseas to those who can’t afford them. Though he’s initially reluctant to part with his cherished possession, he soon realizes that it will benefit a new owner. Big Red is given to Alisetta, a young girl in Burkina Faso who uses it to transport sorghum to market. When Alisetta in turn outgrows Big Red, it’s given to a medical clinic, where it becomes an ambulance. Children will get a strong sense of global citizenship and unity from the simple yet effective narrative. Shin’s digitally composed illustrations are folksy and vibrant, perfect for this cross-cultural tale, and expressively convey the faces of those who interact with Big Red. Back matter includes some useful information on real-life organizations that arrange for bike donations, a brief note on Burkina Faso, and challenges and activities for educators to do with children. VERDICT A strong option for social studies curricula, this noteworthy title will encourage kids to think globally.–Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

emmanueldreamredstarThompson, Laurie Ann. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. illus. by Sean Qualls. 40p. ebook available. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780449817445. LC 2014005767.

K-Gr 2 –This powerful and winning picture book tells the story of a young man overcoming the odds. Born in Ghana with a deformed left leg, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah experienced stigma as a result of his disability: his father abandoned the family, and many assumed that the boy would be little more than a burden. However, with the encouragement of his mother, Yeboah refused to give up, hopping to school (instead of walking) and even learning to play soccer and cycle, despite receiving no extra help or accommodations. Thompson’s lucidly written text explains how Yeboah cycled 400 miles in 2001 to raise awareness, forever changing how Ghanaians perceived those with disabilities. The narrative is simply and clearly written, and the illustrations are skillfully rendered in charmingly emotive ink and watercolor collages. A brief author’s note explains how Yeboah inspired legislation upholding equal rights for the disabled and how he continues to make strides, working with organizations that provide wheelchairs to those who need them and setting up a scholarship fund for children with disabilities. VERDICT This uplifting account will resonate with readers and supplement global and cultural studies. A triumph.–Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

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