Review of My Bike

barton_my bikestar2 My Bike
by Byron Barton; illus. by the author
Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp.
4/15   978-0-06-233699-6   $16.99

This latest installment in Barton’s transportation series (My Car, rev. 11/01; My Bus, rev. 3/14) may be the best one yet. Which is saying a lot. With bright primary colors, simple bold shapes, and the briefest of texts, Barton introduces Tom, who is riding his bicycle to work. “On the way, / I pass trucks / and buses / and lots of cars…” First in the pictures (a truck with the word circus on its side; circus tents in the distance, and then up close) and then in the text (“…and monkeys / and acrobats / and tigers / and lions / and elephants”), Barton gradually reveals Tom’s destination. Of course, just when readers think they’ve figured everything out, Barton adds a finishing twist — integrated so naturally, and with a visual hint provided from the very beginning (see Tom’s backpack). Throughout, Barton displays awareness of and respect for his audience: from topic to storytelling approach (note the simplicity and clarity with which Barton introduces not only Tom but also his bicycle, on a double-page spread labeling each part); from the brisk, compelling pacing to the matter-of-fact inclusion of people of all colors and genders and sizes. Page turns are masterful, propelled by the anticipatory unfolding text and, visually, by Tom himself as he rides his bike ever forward, waving as he goes. “Look! No hands!” Tom, it turns out, is a captivating and first-rate entertainer; so is the creator of this preschooler-perfect picture book.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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