Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield's First Ride

illus. by Joel Christian Gill. 40p. Lion Forge. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781549303142.
PreS-Gr 3—Young readers are introduced to Bessie Stringfield, the famed "Negro Motorcycle Queen," who rode all over the world. The text presents Bessie as a child and encourages readers to consider times when they might have been made to feel inferior in order to understand Bessie's background and appreciate her resilience. Accompanied by read-aloud friendly text, each spread offers unique visual perspectives, expressive characters, and plenty of thrilling action sequences. Bessie was a child in the 1920s and period details such as clothing and automobiles help to establish the setting. The story centers on Bessie's desire to be included in the neighborhood boys' bike races and her determination to disprove their doubts. Emboldened by a dream of riding without fear, Bessie surprises everyone, including herself, when she wins an afternoon race. The back matter consists of an afterword that celebrates the historical significance of Bessie's accomplishments. She rode during a time when it was deemed improper for women to ride motorcycles and when it was dangerous for black people to travel without resources such as the Negro Motorist Green Book by Victor Hugo Green. Additionally, there are conflicting stories about Bessie's childhood, namely her place of birth and her family. In this respect, back matter is severely lacking and would benefit from the inclusion of a bibliography, further reading section, a time line, and even photos of Bessie.
VERDICT An inspiring story featuring a compelling historical figure, though scant back matter does give pause; not an essential purchase.

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