Every now and then I pick up a picture book that instantly says THIS IS THE REAL DEAL and BEN RIDES ON is one of those animals.
The message is wonderful... bullies turning kind after receiving kindness... but the method is magnificent.. MATT DAVIES wrote and illustrated this one and he has got to be a JOKESTER/ThRILLSEEKING/PARTY ANIMAL at heart... see abookandahug Books for Boys tab to understand the Jokester reference.
Young Ben gets up in the morning with a smile on his face and adventure in his heart BECAUSE he has a new bike. This bike is the bike of his dreams and its awesomeness offers Ben an open door to the ultimate adventures in life...like taking the long way to school...which involved riding inside long and winding pipes...who wouldn't love that??? He zooms across bridges with superpowers and flies over shark infested waters. We're talking utter joy here. And wait until your reluctant readers spot the giant ramp built to enable Ben and bike to fly over at least five school buses lined up side by side.
With his "gleaming machine" Ben has indeed reached a state of superpowerness. Is that a word? Apparently not but it should be given what is happening with Ben.
Now, the really careful looker will spot a crow in the early illustrations. Thank goodness this crow has decided to get in the story because he becomes a guardian angel character in the most subtle of ways. Can life get any better than a machine that delivers superpowerness (that word again) AND a guardian angel so all can be attempted?
But every story needs a conflict and that means you need to know about Adrian Underbite. I was not thrilled with the name-calling/labeling feel of this guy's name but he does live up to it. He is a bully ...wait make that a Bully...capital B required... and he, yes, you knew it was coming... it takes Ben's bike.
Ah the sadness. The despair. Joy blows right out of Ben's life. What will he do? What can he do now that the wondrous bike is no longer his? And how about that crow?
There is redemption here my friends.... and the illustrations have been designed with the MOST reluctant reader in mind...that reader who will open a graphic novel ...maayyybe.... but not those awful books with lots of words.
It's so so important to show our young readers that books do belong to them...books do belong in their world...in their lives... and this one...this blessed wacky book...is a tremendous bridge to that bookless side of the river. Just as powerful as the most magnificent bike...
Hope you can get your hands on it. It would be a wonderful read aloud for bullying, for discussion about changing who you are... about how you don't have to be stuck and stereotyped in your own mind or the minds of others...and how wonderful it is to have adventures and feel you can do anything.... including handing a child a book that will make them laugh and fly.
Ages 5-10 9781596437944 32 pages
Recommended by: Barb