Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle

Isabella, Jude (Author)
Shin, Simone (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2015. 32 pages
First published: 2015
Series: CitizenKid
ISBN: 9781771380232 (hardcover)
9781771386340 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

setting

Award

USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2016

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Leo works hard to be able to buy ‘Big Red’ and he rides his bicycle everywhere. But as he gets taller, he outgrows his bike and wants to pass it along “to someone who will love the bicycle as much as he does.” He learns about an organization that donates used bicycles to Third-World countries. After a 29-day journey, Big Red ends up in Burkina Faso, where a little girl named Alisetta immediately feels that she has found her bicycle. Cheered on by her friends, Alisetta learns to ride and soon puts “Big Red to work,” cycling to the sorghum fields her family works, going to the market and even giving her siblings rides to school. One day, Big Red is trampled by a pig, but it is eventually given a new life, as “Le Grand Rouge,” an ambulance that Haridata, a medical volunteer, will use to save lives.

The lengthy text is accessibly written and each narrative section is compelling and well developed, with the characters in each stage of the bicycle’s life suggesting the many beneficial echoes of donations and upcycling. The colour illustrations depict scenes from each cyclist’s life: Leo proudly zipping down the street, Alisetta wobbling through her village, a boy with a broken leg wincing in the bicycle ambulance’s stretcher. The textured print of the pastels and the dashes of brighter colour—digital art made to look like silk screening—give the drawings a rustic appeal.

The book includes information and pictures explaining international bicycle donation programs.

  •  Why do people make donations? Discuss who benefits and how this brings joy to the world.
  •  Write about your best bike ride or write a bicycle adventure.
  •  

    Research and list reasons why bikes are a good form of transportation in your community (e.g. they are relatively cheap to buy and maintain, they are pollution-free, etc.).

  •  How would you carry a dozen chickens or even a goat on a bicycle? Design your own chicken or goat carrier for a bicycle.
  •  Research a country and make the case for why donating bikes there would be good idea.
  •  Create a comic strip starring you and your bike. If your bicycle could talk, what would it say?
  •  

    With a partner, search the Internet to find information on how bicycles are used around the world. Present your research findings to your classmates.

  •  

    Why do you think Leo decided to donate his bicycle instead of selling it? What would you do? Why? Discuss the issue with your group.

  •  

    Do a picture walk. Briefly take turns telling the story, page by page, based solely on the illustrations.

  •  Discuss the story of the bicycle with your parents or grandparents. Ask them about their experiences and memories of having a bicycle. Be prepared to share one of your family stories with your peers.
  •  Research a country and make the case for why donating bikes there would be good idea.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Social Sciences