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A Bike Like Sergio's (A Junior Library Guild Selection) Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Ruben wants a bike like Sergio's and ones his other friends ride, but his family cannot afford one. Fate seems to help him find a way to pay for a bike when a lady inadvertently drops a $100 bill while checking out at the grocery store. No one notices as Ruben stashes the bill in his backpack. The text is lively. "My hands are shaking. That money is enough for a bike like Sergio's. Then I won't have to run; I'll be riding." Semirealistic cartoon illustrations have readers rooting for Ruben to do the right thing. At first, he is excited, envisioning spending the money on a new bike, but eventually he starts feeling guilty. Ruben's conscience eats at him, especially when he cannot find the $100 bill. He searches everywhere before finally locating it in another pocket. Relieved, Ruben decides he will do the right thing and soon gets his chance to make things right. When doing an errand for his mom at the grocery store, he runs into the same woman who lost the bill. He returns it and goes home to tell his family what happened. The book ends as he basks in his parents' pride. This title hits on the issues of poverty, peer pressure, and self-control. VERDICT Parents of all economic backgrounds can use this selection to start a conversation about right and wrong, but kids might find the ending less than satisfying.—Robin Sofge, Alexandria Library, VA
2017 Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title
"Boelts lays out Ruben's ethical dilemma and emotional turmoil without preaching, and his struggle and journey toward the moral choice--which includes an interlude in which he believes he has lost the money--is both dramatic and genuine. Jones's mixed-media illustrations capture the scuffed-up feel of Ruben's urban neighborhood, as well as the sweet earnestness of the bespectacled hero and his multiracial family." Starred Review: Publisher's Weekly
This tale of temptation, ethics, guilt, and family love is firmly grounded in the economic realities of today, as was the earlier collaboration between Boelts and Jones, Those Shoes (rev. 11/07)...The resolution is realistic for a kid with a loving, supportive fam- ily, and it leaves plenty of room for talking about what is most important in life from an authentically childlike perspective.
Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality...Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children.
Maribeth Boelts captures the agony of a moral dilemma in “A Bike Like Sergio’s” (Candlewick, 40 pages, $15.99), a picture book for 5- to 8-year-olds. To Ruben, it seems that every other kid has a bicycle. “Ask your parents again,” says his affluent friend Sergio. “Your birthday’s coming.” True, but, as Ruben says, “Sergio forgets there’s a difference between his birthday and mine.” Later, when Ruben sees a dollar bill flutter from a woman’s purse, he picks it up. “I don’t chase her,” he tells us; “it’s just a dollar.” Except that it isn’t: It’s a $100 bill, and now Ruben can have the bike he wants. Or can he? And should he? In this rewarding tale, Noah Z. Jones’s expressive, naïve illustrations reinforce the sincerity of a boy’s valiant struggle with temptation. -The Wall Street Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
Boelts has created a story that is much more than a lesson in morals. This story is about ethical choices yes, but also about economic disparity and families living on the edge. It is a story told with real subtlety and offering an understanding of what would drive a child who is good at heart to steal what they thought was a dollar. It’s a book about the stories we tell ourselves to make our decisions “right” and the way that doing the right thing may not always be easy or clear.
The illustrations by Jones are modern and rather quirky. They fill the page with the vividness of the urban setting. The love and caring of Ruben’s family are also celebrated in the illustrations.
Subtle and smart, this book about decisions and doing the right thing asks all the right questions. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
I was in a similar situation as a child so I greatly appreciated this book and the dilemma Ruben faces as he finds a 100 dollar bill on the floor of a grocery store that he saw fall out of a woman's purse. He feels it was meant to be that she lost it and he found it but having that money eats away at him.
Written by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z Jones and published by Candlewick Press.
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