Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bike on, Bear! by Cynthea Liu, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Bear is talented at everything - except riding a bike. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't get the knack. His family and friends try to help him, but nothing works and worst of all, a brand-new park opens only for bike riding! This is serious but his mom has the perfect advice; visit the library! With a set of definitive instructions, plenty of determination, and support from his friends, will he finally reach his goal or will it take an emergency for all his practice to come together?

Litten's art is friendly and comforting, if not particularly unique. The spreads range from small spot art on white backgrounds to full page illustrations with textured and colorful backgrounds. The main thing that kept me from really enjoying the art was that I felt Bear was too small in relation to the pictures and while it did give a good feeling of how frustrated he felt by being unable to ride like his friends, being left out etc. it made the story feel disconnected and unfocused since the eye isn't naturally drawn to Bear, you have to look for him.

Despite my reservations, which are mostly just my personal reactions to an art style that isn't my favorite (it's very reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers whom I don't much care for) this is a light and cozy story that most parents and kids will enjoy. It's not an ideal storytime choice, because of the length of text and the smaller pictures, but it's a perfectly acceptable addition to a library collection.

Verdict: Kids struggling with skills like tying shoes, skipping, or even riding a bike will take some comfort from this story and parents will also appreciate Bear's supportive friends and patient determination. There aren't a lot of picture books about biking that younger kids will enjoy and this fills that niche nicely.

ISBN: 9781481405065; Published June 2015 by Simon and Schuster; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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