My Bike

illus. by Byron Barton. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062336996. LC 2014013919.
PreS-Gr 1—In this tale of a boy and his bike, Tom rides past cars, trucks, and buses to his place of employment: a circus, where he dons face paint and becomes a clown. Barton once more shows great intuition for what appeals to children. The book is brimming with elements that will keep kids turning pages: crowds of people, highways crammed with vehicles, a diagram of bike parts, a circus that includes elephants and cavorting monkeys, and—an Easter egg for fans—some old friends from previous Barton books making appearances. Brightly colored, flat, digitally created illustrations have the joyfully childlike quality and soothing repetitiveness of his My Bus (2014) and My Car (2001, both HarperCollins). Though simple (a face is depicted with two circles for eyes and a semicircle for a mouth), these cheery images contain enough detail to catch the attention of very young readers, who will enjoy pointing out the single cat sitting among a large group of people watching Tom perform or a mother scolding her daughter outside the circus tent. The accessible, short sentence structure ("I put on my uniform." "I put on my makeup."), coupled with a large font, gives this book a wide audience. It is an ideal option for storytime and potentially a primer for those making their first forays into independent reading. A delight.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Primary colors, simple shapes, and brief text introduce Tom, who is riding his bicycle to work. The pictures and then the text (he sees "monkeys / and acrobats / and tigers...") gradually reveal Tom's destination--with a finishing twist. Throughout this preschooler-perfect picture book, Barton displays awareness of and respect for his audience.
This latest installment in Barton’s transportation series (My Car, rev. 11/01; My Bus, rev. 3/14) may be the best one yet. Which is saying a lot. With bright primary colors, simple bold shapes, and the briefest of texts, Barton introduces Tom, who is riding his bicycle to work. “On the way, / I pass trucks / and buses / and lots of cars…” First in the pictures (a truck with the word circus on its side; circus tents in the distance, and then up close) and then in the text (“…and monkeys / and acrobats / and tigers / and lions / and elephants”), Barton gradually reveals Tom’s destination. Of course, just when readers think they’ve figured everything out, Barton adds a finishing twist -- integrated so naturally, and with a visual hint provided from the very beginning (see Tom’s backpack). Throughout, Barton displays awareness of and respect for his audience: from topic to storytelling approach (note the simplicity and clarity with which Barton introduces not only Tom but also his bicycle, on a double-page spread labeling each part); from the brisk, compelling pacing to the matter-of-fact inclusion of people of all colors and genders and sizes. Page turns are masterful, propelled by the anticipatory unfolding text and, visually, by Tom himself as he rides his bike ever forward, waving as he goes. “Look! No hands!” Tom, it turns out, is a captivating and first-rate entertainer; so is the creator of this er-perfect picture book. martha v. parravano

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