Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus
228pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
There are as many stories in 5D as there are students, each with a different perspective on the first day of the new school year and a new teacher. There’s Olivia and Dabir, Jordi, Zoe, Lily and Dylan, Max and Mr Bertolli the lollipop man, each very different but united by the commonality of school, each a thread that makes up the tapestry of the class. But only Olivia is allowed to ride her bike to school – until Miss Dillon suggests a bicycle bus to overcome their parents’ fears about traffic and other possibilities. And everything changes.
As they ride, they learn new things about themselves and each other, seeing the world through a different lens. Olivia can fix a puncture in two minutes and Max can ride on one wheel. Lily wishes she wasn’t quite so wobbly and Jordi’s been waiting forever to ride on the road. Dylan has a speedy getaway from alley cats, Dabir’s glad to be part of a group and Zoe’s bike even has a name (Esmeralda). Everyone loves their new way of getting to school.
But there’s a narrow stretch on Fishers Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the local traffic, so Zoe and Max decide they need to make it right (even if that means breaking a few rules).
This is a novel written in free verse by the master of this format that not only entertains and resonates, but introduces young readers to a different ways of telling a story. Each character tells their own story, with characters swapping in and out after a couple of pages, the next linked to its predecessor in some way and so the reader makes the connections and the continuity rather than imposed descriptions of setting and activity.
The sun is shining
and today feels like an adventure,
only one I can go on
whenever I want
because I have a bicycle
and a city
just waiting to be explored.
The same could be said of this book – it’s an adventure only the reader can go on because it is what they bring to the words that brings them alive.
Teachers’ notes are available.