Review of ‘The Patchwork Bike’

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When you live in a village at the edge of the No-Go Desert, you need to make your own fun. That’s when you and your brothers get inventive and build a bike from scratch, using everyday items like an old milk pot (maybe mum is still using it, maybe not) and a used flour sack. You can even make a numberplate from bark, if you want. The end result is a spectacular bike, perfect for going bumpity-bump over sandhills, past your fed-up mum and right through your mud-for-walls home. Patchwork Bike

Last year, I took Year Seven students to see Maxine Beneba Clarke at Brisbane Writers Festival, and we all came away needing to know more about her and read more of her work. She was an outstanding presenter and I’d love to have her as an author in residence at school. Maxine is an Australian writer and slam poet of Afro-Caribbean descent and her latest book is her first (as far as I can tell) foray into the world of picture books for younger readers. ‘The Patchwork Bike’ is an outstanding publication celebrating the universal childhood joy and freedom of owning and riding a bike. I predict it will pop up on various literary shortlists around the country and deservedly so. Beneba Clarke’s paired back text is flawless and ‘The Patchwork Bike’ is excellent as a read aloud, with onomatopoeia used to great effect…it just rolls off the tongue. Like the cool kids hooning the streets on their bikes, the text is fast-moving, exuberant and full of spunk and bike riders young and old will appreciate the inventiveness and creativity of the young bike builders and riders in this story.

Click on title links or cover image to purchase ‘The Patchwork Bike’  in print or click here: THE PATCHWORK BIKE – Maxine Beneba Clarke & Van T Rudd to purchase on itunes. 

For this production, Beneba Clarke collaborated with renowned Melbourne artist Van. T. Rudd who has used his signature street art to create illustrations which are compelling and will connect with readers young and old, staying with them long after the final page is turned. Hachette Children’s Books have done an outstanding job on the design and printing of this production, honouring the quality of the original artwork; the resolution of the printing is so sharp that after multiple readings I still run my fingers over the paint and corrugated card, sure that I’ll feel the texture. The Patchwork Bike

After my first reading of this book, I spent an inordinate amount of time Googling both author and illustrator and reading up on them both; I believe that books which spur you into action or inspire you to find out more about the creatives behind them are the ones which have the most to say and the greatest longevity. ‘The Patchwork Bike’ is worthy of hanging on an art gallery wall, but it will, I hope, reach a far greater audience in the hands of children, parents and teachers and for this I am grateful.

And why YES, I did indeed make cupcakes and biscuits to celebrate this book at school becuase books are always made even better by baked goods and I knew that, as cyclists themselves, the lovely Sammy and Luke would be able to make me some edible bike toppers. What can I say? I find baking relaxing and eating soul satisfying. dsc06254 dsc06249

Please, please, please collaborate again Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van. T. Rudd! And Jenny Stubbs? I think you should consider this duo for the next Story Arts Festival in Qld – I can see the performance poetry and street art created by hundreds of school kids already!

We have purchased and gifted ‘The Patchwork Bike’ to a number of keen young bike riders in the last month or so and as The Wild Thing is finally keen on riding (thanks to her Byk bike #notsponsored #justlikeawelldesignedbike) she got ‘The Patchwork Bike’ for Christmas. DSC08887

Books and Bikes


Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Gregory on Feb 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    I’m so going to buy this book. My kids love bikes and the imagination and ingenuity of building your own is brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

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