Review of Together We Ride

Together We Ride Together We Ride
by Valerie Bolling; illus. by Kaylani Juanita
Preschool    Chronicle    32 pp.    g
4/22    978-1-7972-1248-7    $16.99

A little girl learns to ride a bike in her suburban Bay Area neighborhood, her father by her side until off she goes on her own. Soon enough comes the ­inevitable wobbliness and first fall (with, luckily, a soft landing in some leafy shrubbery), but Dad is there to help: “Hug-cried / Tears dried / Decide…” Will she get back on? Dad wisely lets her think about it, then “Push, goodbyed / Pump, FLY! / What pride!” Bolling’s brief and inventive rhyming text perfectly conveys the action and emotions involved in an inaugural bike ride. Illustrations extend the appealing story by including a supportive dog who pulls twigs off the bike after the crash, wags its tail encouragingly as the girl considers getting back on, and gives her a big wet kiss at the end. However, the crowning elaboration on the text is the art’s celebration of Black hair: Dad, wearing a T-shirt with the Pan-African flag colors, sports high-top dreads, a fade, and a chin-strap goatee, while the girl’s double Afro puffs proudly poof out below her bike helmet. (Safety first, but this girl is not letting that helmet cramp her style.) When the two return home, Mom and younger brother join them for a family bike ride, little man (with dreads that match Dad’s) riding in a sidecar and the dog running happily alongside. Together, indeed.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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