When you head to the library or bookstore this weekend with the kiddos, keep an eye out for A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.
Ruben really, really wants a bike. Then he can ride with his friend Sergio. When Ruben recovers a dropped bill in line at Sonny’s Grocery he doesn’t think anything of it. When he later discovers that it was $100 and not just $1 he is ecstatic. He can now afford a bike. Through a couple ups and downs that create meaningful tension, Ruben confronts the reality that the money is not his and that it was likely worth a lot to the woman who dropped it, just as it has come to mean a lot to him. When a chance comes to return the bill, Ruben makes a difficult decision that leaves him without a bike and with a set of complex feelings. Author Maribeth Boelts beautifully explains it in one sentence: “I am happy and mixed up, full and empty, with what’s right and what’s gone.”
A perfectly executed book looking at what is right and what is wrong and what is hard and what is easy and what we need and what we want and what has worth and what has value. The situations and circumstances will be recognizable to school-age children and the struggle to make the right choice will be keenly felt by readers young and old. Boelts has crafted a powerful and simple story with a positive but challenging lesson. I appreciate that Ruben did not miraculously get the bike in the end; rather, he received affirmation from his family that he made the right decision and he learned to value that for his choice.
An awesome book.