No matter how you slice it, there's no substitution for the serendipity that occurs when you browse the shelves in a library or bookstore. I like to think I'm pretty plugged in to kidlit, that I have a good eye for new releases coming out that feature people of color or other aspects of diversity. But even so, titles slip past me, which makes it all the more wonderful when I stumble on something new when I'm picking out books for Sprout.
A recent find for us is New Red Bike! by James E. Ransome. This is a 2011 release, but somehow I missed it entirely, until Sprout pulled it off the shelf at the library. One look at the cover -- that gorgeous shiny bike and the happy African American boy riding it -- and we knew it was coming home with us.
This is a great read for younger kiddos like Sprout, who are ready for a bit of plot but not too much intricacy. Tom's having a great time on his new bike, riding it all over the neighborhood and checking out its moves. He decides to ride over to Sam's house and show it off. But no one answers the door at Sam's, and when Tom turns around, his bike is gone!
The resolution to Tom's problem comes fairly quickly, and the rest is a negotiation in the importance of sharing and togetherness. Told in the simplest of language, this is one that would work well for read-aloud or for early readers too. And Ransome's art is just fantastic. The illustrations are as accessible as the text, a perfect pairing. Graphic and vibrant watercolors set off the story of two friends, one bike, and moment of panic (and one of forgiveness).
Pair this with other bike-themed titles like Along a Long Road by Frank Viva or Duck on a Bike by David Shannon for a fun read-aloud session. New Red Bike! is a perfect choice for boys like Sprout, who love anything on wheels. And who can resist a shiny red bike??
New Red Bike! by James E. Ransome, published by Holiday House
Sample: "He zooms down the hill, / around the curve, / and back up. / Then he sweeps down to Sam's house."
Bonus: James Ransome's interview with 7-Imp (don't miss it!)