Bikes for Sale by Carter HIggins, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Bikes for Sale written by Carter Higgins
illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Review Copy from Chronicle Books
Bikes for Sale is a perfect picture book. And, as someone who has been reading picture books out loud professionally for almost 25 years, with one of those years spent working as an assistant to a literary agent where I got to read hundreds of picture book manuscripts, I feel qualified to make this statement. Also, I have very high standards for what I consider a picture book worth buying, and Bikes for Sale is absolutely a picture book that I would seek out and purchase, had I not been sent a review copy. 
Maurice's bike is a lemonade stand on wheels and he likes nothing more than riding around town, picking lemons, making lemonade and selling it to thirsty folks. Lotta's chopper-style bike is ideal for riding around and collecting sticks. "Everyone loves sticks," Lotta thinks to herself, "They are the best thing to collect." And they are free. When a stray stick gets stuck in the spokes of Maurice's bike, "what looked like a small stick was really a smashup." Abandoning he wreck, he walks home. And, when "what looked like some petals was really a some peels," Lotta leaves her crash and walks home too. Their bikes were new once, and then they weren't. 

The two struggle to make life without their bikes work without much joy. Happily, they find themselves at the corner shop of Sid, a visionary raccoon who sells "abandoned & discarded bikes" that are "found & restored." There, they discover their two bikes have become one. Together, Maurice and Lotta discover the "lemons have more shine and the sticks have more snap." Using the same words that described the bicycle crashes that changed their lives, but in a new way, Higgins ends Bikes for Sale on this lovely note, "What looked like a friend was really a friend, and that's how friendships begin. They are new once. And then they aren't."
What makes THIS picture book perfect? Higgins tells Maurice and Lotta's story with economy and flair. The parallel story lines draw readers in, while the independence and ingenuity of the characters keep readers hooked. OHora's illustrations pair marvelously with Higgins's text, which generously allows room for his own creative vision (and sense of humor, as when one of the characters steps in poo and tries to get it off with a stick) to enhance the story. When the inciting event happens, Maurice and Lotta struggle separately to move forward without the things that they love until they find themselves in the same place, a wonderful solution before them. The way that Higgins uses the same language to describe the sad part of the story and the happy part of the story is brilliant and makes for a deeply satisfying ending. Adversity, change, growth mindset - these are all big issues that Maurice and Lotta deal with and/or embody. They can easily be teased from the text for great conversations with kids. That said, Bikes for Sale is simply a super story, filled with joy, exploration, excitement, loss, change, collaboration and friendship. What more could you ask for?

Books by Carter Higgins

 Written & Illustrated by Zachariah OHora

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