The Patchwork Bike

illus. by Van Thanh Rudd. 40p. Candlewick. Sept. 2018. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781536200317.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—In this Australian import, three siblings who live in a remote village "at the edge of the no-go desert" in a "mud-for-walls home," make do with what they have to entertain themselves. They like to run, jump, and climb, but their pride and joy is their bike, which they cobbled together out of spare parts and junk. The handlebars are made of branches, and the wood-cut wheels go "winketty wonk" as they ride, a nice onomatopoetic touch. The story by itself is superb, but the artwork elevates it further. Rudd's street art approach is raw yet refined as nearly every brushstroke is visible on the repurposed cardboard backgrounds. Much like Javaka Steptoe's Radiant Child or Jane Yolen's What To Do with a Box, the format shows the incredible creativity of young minds combined with the constraints of poverty. Rudd not only perfectly matches the tone culturally but also works in a few nods to the Black Lives Matter movement, which he explains in his artist's note.
VERDICT An excellent story and conversation starter.

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