The Patchwork Bike

by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van Thanh Rudd

A girl who enthusiastically describes her antics with her brothers says riding the... read more

A girl who enthusiastically describes her antics with her brothers says riding the bike they built themselves is her favorite of all they do. The bike is comprised of found objects: “handlebar branches that shicketty shake … tin can handles and wood-cut wheels…and a bell that used to be Mum’s milk pot.” That it is handmade out of economic necessity, sometimes requiring repairs relying on more ingenuity, is something that can be inferred but it has no relation to the siblings’ pleasure and delight. Set in a village on the African continent, “at the edge of the no-go desert,” under the “stretching-out sky,” the story featuring a Muslim family celebrates creativity, imagination, and universal joy in play. The fresh, playful use of language is perfectly suited to its theme. The same is true of the acrylic-on-recycled cardboard art, in which the use of shadow and light suggests the hot sun on every page. Informative notes from both author and illustrator speak more to the story’s themes, and intentional connections the artist made between the African setting and characters and African Americans in the United States, including a “BLM” license plate. Highly Commended, 2019 Charlotte Z olotow Award (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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