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Monday, September 11, 2017

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World, written and illustrated by Allan Drummond. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincaost, 2017. $24.99 ages 7 and up

"At first the demonstrations
were great fun. People even
held parties in the middle of
the road. "Give us back our
streets!" they cried. Crowds
gathered outside the Dutch
prime minister's house. They
chanted songs and called for
change. Children banded
together and proclaimed
that some roads should ... "

School is back. Along with the buses' arrival this morning, I saw a bunch of kids riding their bikes, and a few teachers, too. It is that kind of day. That being said, I thought I would tell you about a book that I found very interesting.

In the 1970s people were protesting a number of things. An activist mom in Amsterdam started a movement to make the streets safer for all who chose to ride bicycles. Today, if you were to visit Amsterdam, you would see people riding their bicycles everywhere in the city, and for many different reasons. There are more bikes than there are cars.

" ... over canal bridges,
down narrow streets,
 across busy roads.

To school, to work,
to shop, to visit friends.

All kinds of bikes."

This book is a testament to the persistence of people who believe in something, and will work hard to accomplish what they feel is important. The streets were so busy, that people felt they had no space for themselves on their roads. The route to finally have the laws change meant a lot of meetings, many demonstrations, publicity for the cause, and unfortunately the death of a child. Her father, a reporter, published a chilling statistic.

"This year, five hundred children have been killed on the roads of
our country. Many of them were riding bikes."

It was the impetus needed to push for better conditions for all Dutch cyclists, and the beginning of a movement toward protecting the environment and encouraging people to be more active. And that is how Amsterdam became 'the capital city of cycling'. Readers will enjoy Allan Drummond's pen and ink and watercolor artwork. He fills the pages, including endpapers and front matter, with detailed images that accomplish his wish to have those who read his book see how much fun riding can be. Full of energy and movement, this is a book that will be fun to share when your school is hosting a bicycle rodeo.

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