From Publishers Weekly
Lateef, "a determined and hardworking lad" who lives in western Nigeria, gathers firewood and mushrooms to sell at the village market so he can afford to rent a bike from Babatunde. Despite his friends' taunts, Lateef finally learns to ride sufficiently well that Babatunde agrees to rent him a big, new bike rather than the usual small, older model. After the boy succumbs to his peers' dare to ride downhill without holding onto the handlebars, he predictably crashes. Lateef asks Babatunde for a job to work off his debt and, after having done so, stays on the job to earn his own bicycle. Though the author offers some insight into Nigerian culture, his writing is often mannered (e.g., "His friends teased him. `You will never be a good rider. Yea!' they crowed. His friends laughed, `Ha-ha, ho-ho, ha-ho!' "). Demarest (If Dogs Had Wings) turns in less than his best work with these watercolor illustrations: figures are oddly foreshortened and their features sketchy. The setting, which is the strength of the story, seems generic in the art. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2-Lateef passes the bicycle stall every day on his way home from school and longs to rent a bike like the other boys in his Nigerian village. He saves money by gathering firewood and mushrooms from the rain forest to sell at the market. At last the day arrives when he can rent a bike for the afternoon. With practice, Lateef masters the art of riding a two-wheeler. One day, the owner of the stall rolls out a new red bicycle that the youngster longs to ride. However, he must first prove to Babatunde that he is capable of taking care of the larger bike. Both characters learn the value of hard work and forgiveness when Babatunde allows him to ride the bike, only to have it returned in a bent and riddled condition. The richly hued watercolor illustrations infuse the landscape with jungle greens, burnt sienna, and buttery yellow backgrounds. However, the real details to be savored are in the warm facial expressions of Babatunde and Lateef, both of whom jump out of the background and into the heart of this charming story. Don't relegate this offering to the multicultural book list. It can be used anytime a smile is in order.Lisa Gangemi Krapp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.