The Patchwork Bike, written by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd

The Patchwork Bike
Written by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd


The Patchwork Bike is on the Publisher’s Weekly Best of 2018 list. I absolutely loved this book and I believe it deserves some medal recognition. First published in Australia and New Zealand in 2016, it takes place in Africa, but it could be anywhere where people live in mud homes, on sandy hills, with metal flower basket trees. The children build a bike from recycled material and it is their most cherished possession.

The illustrations are simple, yet stunning. The pages look like chalk or paint drawings on cardboard. The theme is that inspiration, fun, and family are important and universal regardless of income, ethnicity, location and climate. There is a lot of symbolism in the illustrations as well.

Review by Terrie Bishop, Academy Park Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades K-4

A girl and her two brothers live at the edge of the no-go desert with their mom in a home with mud walls. There is nothing to do in the desert, so these siblings decided to make a bicycle out of old materials. The bike has no pedals, but it can carry all three children as they explore their neighborhood. Van Thanh Rudd chose to give the impression that this book was made from cardboard and the siblings had painted the images with castoff art supplies. Overall, this story provides a glimpse of what it is like to grow up in poverty.

Review by LeeAnne Neilson, Hillside Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★½✩✩ (2.5 stars)
Interest Level: Kindergarten-4th

The Patchwork Bike
Written by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
Candlewick Press
32 pages
Release Date: September 11, 2018 (USA)
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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