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A brand-new sign of springtime

A new entry to our “signs of springtime” checklist: scooters!

I spotted this lime-green Lime electric scooter on the Fenway while leaving the office earlier this week. My fiancé and I visited Spain last fall, and these “micro mobility” rentals — think ZipCar with scooters — were all over Madrid. They were the perfect way to explore the city’s massive parks and zip back to our hotel after a long afternoon of walking museum galleries. (My fiancé was so taken with the scooters that he ordered one when we got home! It makes his commute significantly faster than taking the T; apparently scooters are the “wave of the future” for commuting. 😉)

I knew that they were available in a small number of U.S. cities, but was surprised to run into (heh) them here. Turns out Brookline has just launched a pilot program with two different scooter-rental companies. Give ’em a try one of these nice spring days — safety first, of course! — or take one of these recommended books for a spin. Reviews reprinted from The Horn Book Guide.

Picture books

Bee, William  Stanley the Mailman
32 pp.     Peachtree     2016

A new Stanley book means another chance to watch the ultra-mellow hamster demonstrate yet another profession: this time, he’s delivering mail by scooter. The simple premise and tidy illustrations are just right for the Maisy crowd, but the older set will smile at some of Stanley’s encounters (e.g., because Hattie’s mail includes a speeding ticket, she grumbles, “Thanks a lot, Stanley”).

Reynolds, Alison  A New Friend for Marmalade
32 pp.     Little Simon     2014

Illustrated by Heath McKenzie. In a sweet follow-up to A Year with Marmalade, friends Ella and Maddy are annoyed when enthusiastic but destructive neighbor Toby ruins their building projects. After Toby saves their cat friend, Marmalade, from disaster, the girls abandon their annoyance and try Toby’s scooter game instead. In his spacious, eye-catching line drawings, McKenzie leaves characters in black-and-white and skillfully adds color washes to surrounding images.

Stein, Peter  Little Red’s Riding ‘Hood
40 pp.     Scholastic/Orchard     2015

Illustrated by Chris Gall. In this amusing “Little Red Riding Hood” takeoff peopled by vehicles of all kinds, scooter Little Red tangles with a monster truck who has just devoured Granny Putt Putt. Because Red knows the neighborhood streets (his “riding ‘hood”) so well, he manages to vanquish the truck. Bold illustrations give the characters plenty of personality, while playful vehicle-related language adds to the humor.

Timmers, Leo  Gus’s Garage
32 pp.     Gecko     2017

Translated by James Brown. Pig mechanic Gus spends the day solving various animal friends’ car troubles: e.g., when rhino Rico complains that he’s “overflowing” on his motor scooter’s tiny seat, Gus rigs it with an armchair. The rhymes are toe-tappers, and readers will delight in determining which item from Gus’s hodgepodge junk pile (a painstakingly rendered heap by Timmers) will do the job.

Intermediate fiction

Rollins, Ellie  Zip
328 pp.     Penguin/Razorbill     2012

After her performer mother’s death, Lyssa hops on her beloved scooter, Zip, to make the unlikely voyage from Oregon to Austin, Texas, to save her childhood home. Along the way, she meets colorful characters (mostly other children) who help her evade the grownups and reach her destination. Magical realism and Greek mythology enhance this story of a grieving girl’s (literal) journey toward acceptance.

To celebrate more signs of springtime, check our our themed booklists about bikes (and 5Qs with a librarian on one!), bunnies, birdies, and baseball.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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