A bike is exciting – especially when it is new, red and has a shiny bell; you can imagine riding it. But the reality is rather more scary and as you quickly discover, difficult. In fact you can get hurt. However, with Dad there to encourage, support and pick up the pieces, learning to ride your bike turns into a very worthwhile lesson.
In this attractive picture book reflecting a situation its young audience will appreciate, Simon Mole tells the story through the immediacy of his young protagonist who speaks to us directly. This immediacy is reflected in Sam Usher’s lively illustrations around which the text weaves in and out following the track of the bicycle and its young rider. There is a pleasing solidity in these images. They are the focus of the attention taking centre stage against the white space of each page. Only where necessary does Sam Usher add some colour to create the sense of a landscape. However, it is how the illustrations and the text work together that creates the dynamic of this very simple narrative. Without any extraneous description the relationship between father and daughter, the anxiety in the face of a difficult task, the pain of a setback can be perfectly understood. Above all Mole’s catchy rhyme ‘There’s a tingle in my tummy …’ that runs throughout doesn’t just capture the rhythm of the bicycle wheels, it also expresses the joy of achievement – and the freedom a child can experience from this simple activity – riding a bicycle. This is a picture book to enjoy.