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Monday, January 23, 2017

A Bike Like Sergio's, written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $22.00 ages 4 and up

"I stand in line, mad, with the
bread my mom wants, waiting
behind the lady in the blue coat
who we see all the time. She
steps up to pay and gathers
her bags. In the shuffle, her
purse tips. A dollar floats to
the floor. No one sees.

I scoop the money up fast."

I loved sharing Those Shoes (Candlewick, 2007) for its message of kindness to and concern for others. In her new book, Maribeth Boelts is able to bring those feelings to the forefront once again. This second story is informed by the same issues - money, motivation and respect. I have said it before, and will surely say it often in the future: Kids need to see themselves in the books they read ( a mirror), and they need to see how others live their lives (a window).

Ruben's friend Sergio has a brand new bike. Ruben has a wish. He would love to have a bike just like it. The solution seems simple to Sergio - ask for one for the birthday that will soon be here. Ruben knows that birthdays are not the same in his family as they are in Sergio's. But, he has the ability to dream, and to wish for one.

While they are at the store for a pack of football cards (Sergio) and a loaf of bread (Ruben), a lady in front of them loses a dollar bill from her open purse. Ruben notices, picks it up and keeps it. When he finally takes it from his pocket, he is astounded to find it is a $100 bill!

"That money is enough to buy a bike like Sergio's. Then I won't
have to run; I'll be riding."

It is a lot of temptation for a boy who has few finances. He knows that his family has little, and must give up one thing to have another. When his mother asks him to stop at the store on the way home from school the next day, he is conflicted. Will he see the lady again? When he checks his backpack, the money is gone! A quiet search reveals nothing. Sleep does not come easily. All hopes for a new bike vanish.

A chance meeting with the very same, now sad, woman the next day proves a blessing. She is oh, so thankful.

"I am happy and mixed up,
full and empty, with what's
right and what's gone."

No reward but the pride his parents offer when he relates his story. Bravo!

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