Learning to ride a bicycle is not easy. Of course, it is fine if you have stabilisers or “little wheels”. But you will need a great deal of encouragement – especially if it rains while you are out.
In this charming picture book Sebastien Pelon charts the progress of a small boy as he sets out on his safe bike to progress, despite some accidents and a certain amount of plaster, to the freedom of the “grown-up bike”. A cool palette – soft greys gentle browns, moss greens provide the landscape through which his young protagonist wobbles, falls and pedals, while he himself is shown as a line drawing, a figure in a black jumper. But there is nothing insubstantial about him. The artist’s deft lines ensure that he has a satisfying solidity. The one constant spot of colour is the pink (or is it red) hat of the creature who accompanies the boy on his learning journey, a large, softly lumpy looking creature. Is it a father substitute? Or an imaginary friend? Does it matter? The assurance with which Pelon presents him engages the attention and the imagination. There are no dragons, wild chases, dreadful jeopardy but at no point does the action flag. We move between vignettes, visual descriptions, and spacious spreads sharing our hero’s tentative steps through near disaster to triumph – and a certificate for a Super Cyclist. Masterly and engaging.