Review of Wild Blue: Taming a Big-Kid Bike

Wild Blue: Taming a Big-Kid Bike Wild Blue: Taming a Big-Kid Bike
by Dashka Slater; illus. by Laura Hughes
Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.
2/23    9781536215670    $18.99

“My pink pony and I ride the wide open spaces from sunrise to sunset,” young narrator Kayla declares. Her “pink pony” is a small bike with training wheels, and the “wide open spaces” are her neighborhood’s sidewalks. But she’s outgrown the bike, so Wild Blue comes into her life—a much bigger and more spirited bicycle. Kayla saddles Wild Blue up, but…“Daddy! This bike’s not tame enough to ride!” Despite her efforts, the new bike bucks her off time and time again. With her father (on “his red stallion”), Kayla heads to the park to practice, gradually learning to ride with confidence and joy. “Her legs are my legs. Her mane, my mane. Her breath, my breath.” Slater does an excellent job inhabiting that space between imagination and real life that allows two things to be true: Wild Blue can be simultaneously a horse and a bicycle. Hughes’s soft acrylic-ink illustrations capture that space as well: we sometimes see Kayla in a cowboy hat in the company of a large horse, and at other times in a bicycle helmet with her bike. Readers will appreciate Kayla’s commitment to her imaginative life, along with Slater’s twist on the familiar learning-to-ride-a-bike story: in the end Kayla denies that she’s tamed her new bicycle, instead insisting, “She’s still wild…but so am I.”

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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