Elena Rides

Candlewick. Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781536216356.
PreS-Gr 1–A determined purple elephant named Elena buckles on her helmet and hops on a green bike, but her confidence falters after taking a few falls. Turns out that learning to ride isn’t easy, especially if you are a large elephant trying to balance on a small two-wheeler. It helps to have a caring friend—in this case, a little red bird who offers words and winged gestures of encouragement and support. Spare but engaging prose that includes just a few words or simple sentences per page effectively captures the experience of learning to ride: “She readies, she steadies…she pushes, she pedals! She wobbles and bobbles…KA-BANG!” Uncluttered illustrations in bright, bold colors convey a range of emotions from anticipation and excitement to disappointment and determination. Beginning readers may find some of the vocabulary challenging, but rhythmic text and expressive illustrations provide context, making it easier to follow along. Elena’s persistence offers an important message to anyone attempting to master a new skill, including those just learning to read. It might take a “ka-bang,” a “ka-plunk,” and a “ka-rash,” but they won’t give up.
VERDICT This cheerful story with colorful illustrations will appeal to new readers and to parents looking for a read-aloud about perseverance.

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