The test of a good story is in how much good stuff you can leave out.
On My Bike
About the Illustrator
Born and raised in Germany, Christina Leist now lives in Vancouver. Before becoming a full-time illustrator, she worked in advertising as an art director and graphic designer. She illustrated Baad Animals, (2005) The Graveyard Hounds (2008), On my Walk (2009), On My Skis (2016), and On My Bike (2017) for Tradewind Books.
Review by Alison Schroeder in CM Magazine 23:20 (February 3 2017), online at umanitoba.ca/cm/vol23/no20/onmyskis.html:
***/4 On My Skis and On My Bike are stories that follow a young child learning to ski and ride a bike and all of the things the child hears and sees while outside in winter and fall. Both stories show the same child learning these skills alongside parents, younger sibling, and dog.
These stories have a nice rhythm to them and incorporate a rhyme scheme that young children would like. However, the use of sound effects as part of the text of the books means they would be very difficult books for a child who is learning to read, and, therefore, they would most likely have to be read aloud by a more experienced reader.
The illustrations in On My Skis and On My Bike are hand-drawn and use really beautiful colour schemes that reflect the season in which each book takes place. At times, the illustrations look perhaps a little too stylized and loosely drawn, but that doesn’t distract from the quality of the books. The main character is depicted in such a way that the child’s gender is not specified, and so would be easy for any child to relate to the books’ contents. The illustrations also are non-specific when it comes to the ethnicity of all of the characters, again making it easy for children to feel connected to the story.
Review in Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2017), online at kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kari-lynn-winters/on-my-bike:
A skunk upsets a fall bicycle ride through the country.
A mother, a young child, both wearing their helmets, and a dog leave a father and baby and start off on a bike ride. They start near the sea, go past a pond with ducks, stop by a farm, pick some apples, and then meet up with the skunk. They reverse their tracks and find the rest of the family. The simple rhyming text is enlivened with onomatopoeic sounds: “I hear my bike, clackety-clack, clackety-clack / and some ducks, quackety-quack, quackety-quack.” The genderless child looks a little young to be riding without training wheels, but the brown-skinned tot is having a good time. The child, the baby (just a round head sticking out from an orange front pack), and the mother are a slight tone darker than the father. The dad takes care of the infant while the mom goes on the short adventure with the older child, reflecting contemporary families. The humans, the bikes, and the dog are boldly outlined and flatly drawn, but the autumnal landscape (evidently Vancouver, the illustrator’s home) has contrasting textures. The olive greens and browns are subtle colors for this age group, but there are red and gold highlights as well as the bold outlines to keep eyes focused. Small size, short text, and common experiences make this a good choice for reading aloud at home or to a small group. Publishing simultaneously is On My Skis, which finds the same family enjoying the winter; the dad takes the child out for what appears to be a first downhill-skiing experience, while the mom and the baby (tucked in a sled) watch.
This is a book that young children will easily remember and recite after a reading or two.
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