In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name --- Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle's story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle --- renamed Le Grand Rouge --- delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.
This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin's digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of Alisetta's and Haridata's communities in rural Africa, creating vivid comparisons between Leo's life and their lives. Youngsters will learn how different the world is for those who rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation, and how one ordinary bicycle --- and a child's desire to make a difference --- can change lives across the world. This book also offers an excellent opportunity for expanding character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy to include the wider world.
Simone Shin is an award-winning illustrator and a graduate of Boston University and the Art Center College of Design. She began working as a freelancer illustrating for magazines and newspapers, and teaching children in the arts, eventually venturing into children's book illustration. Her inspiration comes from her highly active preschool-aged son, as well as her strong interests in music, nature and family history. In her spare time she likes to create things with fabric and cardboard for fun --- game boards, telephones, record players, violins, dollhouses, just about anything she can think of! After residing for many years in the Los Angeles area, Simone currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works at home illustrating children's books all day and all night.
Jude Isabella started writing kids' books when she was managing editor of YES Mag: Canada's Science Magazine for Kids. A resident of Victoria, British Columbia, Jude lives with her husband, a raccoon that refuses to be evicted from the bicycle shed and a small group of deer that graze in the garden each summer. When she's not writing or interviewing scientists, Jude is most likely to be found riding her pretty green bicycle.
Isabella's straightforward and specific prose is brought to life by Shin's textured and upbeat illustrations, which provide windows into the different places along Big Red's route.
A strong option for social studies curricula, this noteworthy title will encourage kids to think globally.
A fine addition to the CitizenKid series.
... it provides an extensive amount of clearly written information, from how a bicycle is transported across the continents to the ripple of economic benefits felt throughout the community.
...offers multiple access points and opportunities for critical literacy lessons and dialogue focusing on equity and critical and responsible citizenship.
Appealingly illustrated by Shin, this is a particularly good depiction of the ripple effect that can follow one generous act.