The Bicycle: How an Act of Kindness Changed a Young Refugee’s Life

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2024. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063056992.
Gr 1-4–“His gift made Mevan feel a hundred feet tall,” conveys the tone of this story about a young girl as her family flee Kurdistan and the behest of the Iraqi government. They are not welcome in Turkey or Russia, and eventually end up in the Netherlands. There, the gift of a bicycle helps Mevan adjust. The events of this story are true, related in an omniscient third person and based on co-author Babakar’s childhood. With McCormick, she shows the complexities of life as an immigrant. Some events, such as not being allowed to stay in a country, make Mevan and her family feel teeny tiny while other experiences—being among all her loving relatives back home—make her feel ten feet tall. The authors use repetitive phrasing of sentences that appear on the same page, which makes a difficult topic more approachable and appropriate for teaching early literacy skills and helping children better comprehend the story. The authors emphasize the poetry of the text over strict literacy rules, but the meaning is clear.
VERDICT This picture book explores the complex topic of immigration through the lens of a small child in a meaningful way. Children will appreciate the authentic experience of Mevan while relating to her struggles and joy in receiving a simple gift like a bicycle.

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