In A Bike Like Sergio‘s, Ruben’s family has trouble making ends meet and money is always tight. His best friend Sergio has a slick new bike and doesn’t understand why Ruben can’t just ask his parents to buy him one too. Ruben, like many children around the world, already understands the necessity of being choosy about every purchase in order for his family to survive.
One day at the grocery store, a lady drops “just a dollar” that turns out to be a hundred and Ruben’s thoughts go straight to buying a new bike!! But when he sees his mother crossing items off their grocery list (they can’t afford all of it), he starts to feel guilty; the bill suddenly weighs heavy in his pocket. After Ruben scares himself by thinking he’s lost the money, and his dream bike, he develops empathy for the woman when he sees her again in the store…What’s the right decision to make when you’re so close to having something you desire, and maybe even deserve?
After Sergio makes his decision, he says “I breathe fast, and the words bust loose like they’ve been waiting.” Readers can surely relate to that feeling; a mix of dread and the relief that comes with knowing what you have to do. I enjoy how Boelts tells this story; her writing is reflective and the story is relatable for readers of all ages. Sergio tells us “I am happy and mixed up, full and empty, with what’s right and what’s gone.” WHEW BOY, that line! Sometimes making the right decision isn’t the easiest and though we might not get what we want, we’re usually changed by the experience.
The book isn’t shy about discussing poverty. It explores the feelings of being left out and not having what others have, and envying other children’s financial stability. Sergio doesn’t pick up on the fact that his friend might not have the same lifestyle as he does. Children will get this book, especially if their family isn’t as financially stable as others and/or if they have a close friend who they know is struggling.
The illustrations are wonderful. Jones’ watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations are perfect for this story. They’re scratchy and honest and memorable. Through reading Boelts’ words and experiencing Jones’ illustrations, readers can feel Sergio’s emotions. He’s so expressive. A Bike Like Sergio‘s is a whirlwind of emotions and explores the importance of empathy and the difficulty of doing the right thing. What a great book for discussion! Aspects of it remind me of Maddi’s Fridge, another picture book that’s focused on tough decisions, friendship and childhood poverty.
I wholeheartedly recommend both. ❤
Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Morals, Friendship, Right vs. Wrong, Lessons, Poverty, Empathy, Discussion, Pride
Book Info: A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts/Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, 2016 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763666491