Joy Ride

Candlewick. Apr. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536207743.
K-Gr 3–The lesson of appreciating being different feels forced and heavy-handed amid a tumult of competing messages. Joy, a young girl with tan skin, wants a summer project to keep her busy. Her darker skinned mother suggests she ask her grandfather for help. The two spend many hours fixing and embellishing an old bike to replace the hand-me-down she uses. When the bike is finished, it is bedazzled and makes its own music as the streamers go “whippity-whip-whippity-whip-whip” and the cards in the tire spokes say “tickety-tickety-tickety-tickety.” But the girl’s ride is cut short when some friends and strangers make fun of her bike, causing her to impulsively damage it by pushing it down a hill. This event is an abrupt and startling new direction for the story. While children sometimes act before thinking, her actions conflict with the time and care she and her grandfather spent fixing up the bicycle. The story quickly buckles as it addresses anger management, peer pressure, and bullying. González’s illustrations beautifully complement the text, keeping pace and capturing the emotions Joy experiences.
VERDICT The artwork is superb, but the many messages in this story quickly overwhelm it.

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