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Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen Hardcover – April 18, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2 As a toddler, Sally Jean rides on the back of her mother's bicycle. She graduates to a tricycle at age two. By age four, she has her own yard-sale bike with training wheels. Those baby wheels come off the next year and she becomes Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen, who rides like a pro on her bike named Flash. By the time Sally Jean is eight, she has outgrown her beloved Flash. Her parents can't afford a new bike, but her neighbor, a junk collector, comes to her rescue. In exchange for cleaning his yard, he gives Sally Jean used parts. Soon she is repairing other kids' bikes, but still doesn't have one of her own until the child comes up with an idea. Davenier's ink-and-watercolor illustrations are light and airy and convey a variety of emotions and delightful details. Sally Jean is a real charmer, and children will appreciate her resourcefulness and tenacity. Pair this terrific book with Bruce McMillan's The Remarkable Riderless Runaway Tricycle (Apple Island Bks, 1985) or Jim Aylesworth's My Sister's Rusty Bike (S & S, 1996) for a storyhour with a great deal of flash. Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 2. Thanks to its adjustable seat and handlebars, Sally Jean's bright red two-wheeler, which she calls "Flash," grows right along with its rider. But pretty soon "there was no more room for raising," and no money to buy a bigger bike. At first despairing, resourceful Sally Jean eventually solves the problem using her imagination, advice from a kindly junk shop owner, and her mechanical skills. Sally Jean's DIY inclinations are too subtly implied to support the large role they play in the resolution, and the periodic singsong refrains, though disarmingly zealous, do not always read smoothly ("I'm a plane, I'm a train, / I'm a girl up on a horse. / I'm Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen, / And my bike is Flash, of course!"). But the conclusion is perfectly pitched, and Davenier's spontaneous, ebullient watercolors, reminiscent of the work of Marc Simont, flesh out Sally Jean's world with fond details of neighborhood, family, and friends, and capture the irresistible qualities of a little girl who knows how to make things happen. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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We follow Sally Jean from her earliest years when she was perched in the kid seat on her mother's bike to her confident, independent years when she worked to build herself a new bike. Best's use of patterns make the book a delightful read for my kids (4.5 and 2).
In the beginning we see Sally Jean waving from behind her mom, or on her tricycle or on her "yard-sale bike with two small wheels that hugged the ground". In all these instances, we're treated with Sally Jean's optimism and delight for riding with the same simple phrase. '"Hi!" she said to the big kids on their bikes."
My son cheered for her when she finally develops the skills to count herself among the ranks of two-wheel riders. '"Wait for meeee!" she called to the big kids on their bikes."
As a former little girl, I find myself drawn to the optimistic energy and celebration of outdoor adventure in Sally Jean. Davenier's illustrations more than capture the joy that Sally Jean finds in life. I can almost see myself in them, despite the fact that bike riding was a tumultuous and difficult skill for me to learn (we lived at the bottom of a hill right off a main drag . . . not fabulous for kids to enthusiastically acquire the skills!). In fact, this book almost erases those memories of apprehension - now I can live vicariously through a fellow-redhead. That's the magic of books, right?
As a mother, I see Sally Jean as a positive role model (and even heroine!) for my children. At one point she finds that she has outgrown her treasured bike, Flash. Undaunted by the expense of a new bicycle, Sally Jean heads out to earn money (teaching bicycle maintenance and repair to the neighbor children, of course!) to buy used parts and build her own new bike, Lightening, with the help of a mentor. I also like that this girl is out living life, moving her body and having a blast!
This book really has it all: shared family experiences, community building, problem solving, celebration, mentoring (she takes a small child under her wing, too!), and the joy of childhood.
My only issue with the book is that she skips age 3 (which is fine), but the text says, "Then she turned four..."
Instead it should say, "When she turned four,..."
We've made the correction in our book. :)