CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013
The Great Bike Rescue. (Orca Young Readers).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
106 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $7.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0478-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0479-1 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0480-7 (epub).
Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.
Review by Amber Allen.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Emily sighed and shook her head.
“Except it’s not the actual thief you want. Not if you want your bike back,” she said. “You’re not thinking this out properly. People who steal bikes don’t keep them. They—“
The shout came from the back of the store. It was Riley’s voice. It sounded as if he was in pain. We took off at a run. We rounded the corner. Riley didn’t look like he’d been hurt. He was just standing there. No muggers. No pack of wild dogs. No blood. What was wrong?
And then I saw the bike stand. Riley’s chain lock was wrapped around it, the lock securely fastened.
But the bike itself was gone.
When Levi’s bike is stolen from right in front of the convenience store, everyone asks him the same question: “Was it locked?” The feelings of loss are intensified by the guilt that he didn’t, in fact, lock it. However, when his best friend Riley’s bike is stolen the next day from the same area, it becomes clear that locked or no, someone in the neighbourhood is stealing bikes, and the boys are determined to discover the perpetrator. Through multiple plans and tactics, Levi and Riley put their heads together to solve the mystery with a little help from the police, their parents, and one of the prime suspects – Emily Grimshaw.
Hazel Hutchins has written a gripping mystery for children with twists and clues enough to keep readers engaged until the surprise resolution. She is a master at chapter-ending cliff-hangers. There could not be a more relatable subject matter for a pre-teen mystery than a bike thief, and Hutchins delivers a cast of characters complete with believable dialogue, actions, and reactions. The first person narrative from Levi’s perspective is a solid foundation and allows the different facets of the story to be filtered through one consistent point of view. Readers get the benefit of compelling characters of both genders, and ages (Levi’s dad is really cool) without becoming confused by too many voices.
The Great Bike Rescue strikes a balance between the boys’ solo investigation around the town and responsible parental guidance. It is refreshing to see the boys given autonomy while still choosing to make respectful and safe choices such as involving the police. There was a lot of subtext to this story that hinted at some dark things. Hutchins’ gives children the benefit of the doubt by not shying away from the issues of animal abuse and different/difficult family life, while also not being overwhelmingly didactic. Humour is also sprinkled throughout the text, creating a beautiful harmony. I believe this is a novel that will pull young readers in with no difficulty at all while setting up some very interesting discussions for post-reading.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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