Last week I reviewed Orca Footprints' book about children being involved in the food process, Down to earth: How kids help feed the world. This week I'm looking at the other title so far in this series, about bicycles.
The book opens with a history of bicycles, including facts on how they changed history, especially the lives of women. The second chapter explains how modern bicycles work, gives a brief tutorial on learning to ride a bike, and talks a little about some of the new things bikes are doing, like being made out of bamboo or being used to harness electricity. The third chapter talks about some of the ways bicycles are used, from fun tournaments to everyday life. "Pedaling for change" the final chapter, explains how bicycles are changing the world today, offering people new opportunities and helping the environment.
Interspersed throughout the chapters are photographs of bicycles in action, personal anecdotes from the author's own life, and historical details and modern facts about bicycles. The back matter includes books, a movie and websites, acknowledgements and an index.
I appreciated that while the book didn't really address people who can't practically switch to a car-free, bicycle-centric life, it also didn't rant and rave about them. Bicycles are great, but it's not practical for, say, people living in Wisconsin to bike 11 miles to work in several feet of snow (or 11 miles to work any day, on a highway, for that matter. I'd have to be in serious physical condition to attempt that feat. I'm not) However, there is lots of practical advice for kids wanting to bike more often and parents wanting to make their lives a little more healthy and less car-dependent. The history sections were interesting and not too lengthy and kids will especially like the many photos and information on the ways bicycles are used around the world.
Verdict: This might be a little more popular in an urban environment, but there are quite a few kids who ride bikes in our area and even a few parents, so I think it's worth purchasing in any library, just for the look at how bicycles are used around the world.