CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 30 . . . . April 5, 2013
Authors are most successful when they write about a topic with which they are familiar. Michelle Mulder is a bike enthusiast who has written a hugely entertaining and informative nonfiction book about bicycles. After buying her first bike when she was 15 and riding it for 20 years, Mulder is a guru when it comes to bicycles. Her personal experiences found in sections labeled 'On My Route' and photos add to the easy flow of her narrative. She begins with the history of the bicycle – including descriptions and archival photos of the walking machine, the boneshaker and the high wheeler. Next invented were bikes with air in the tires to save poor bodies from all the bumps in the road. There are drawings of bike parts and gears and even instructions on how to ride by making the bike become an extension of your body. Flight engineers, like the Wright brothers and Paul B. MacCready, are cited for their use of the bicycle in their early attempts at flight.
Mulder is clearly a bike promoter. Not only do she and her family ride everywhere, having no family car, but she writes about all the ways in which cycling can help to save the earth. While cars are draining the world's supplies of oil and natural gas, using the bicycle for transportation seems like the obvious solution. Not only used for transporting people, bicycles are used in many countries to transport goods, power other machines like knife sharpeners and to charge batteries. In hard to reach parts of the world, bicycles are even used as ambulances, transporting sick people to hospitals.
The format of Pedal It! is easy to follow, and interesting facts are on every page. "Quick Bike Fact[s]" are scattered on various pages as well as tracks and drawings of old fashioned bikes and gears. Colour and black and white photos are displayed. Interestingly, many photos were sent to Mulder from all over the world to be included in this book. The websites included at the back of the book offer a chance to contact Bicycles for Humanity and the Bamboo Bike Project, to name only two exciting bicycle projects.
Hang onto your handlebars! Pedal It! is a must-read for kids and adults alike. Now go dust off your bike!
Sherry Faller is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.