Ruben, the young narrator of this story from the team behind Those Shoes (2007), knows that his family can’t afford the bike he yearns for. “Wishes won’t make money appear,” he confides to readers. “Ask your parents again,” urges his bike-riding friend Sergio, who doesn’t seem to realize the limitations of Ruben’s circumstances. Then one day, a woman unknowingly drops a $100 bill in the grocery store. If Ruben doesn’t return it, he can buy the bike—but how will he explain it to his parents? Boelts lays out Ruben’s ethical dilemma and emotional turmoil without preaching, and his struggle and journey toward the moral choice—which includes an interlude in which he believes he has lost the money—is both dramatic and genuine. Jones’s mixed-media illustrations capture the scuffed-up feel of Ruben’s urban neighborhood, as well as the sweet earnestness of the bespectacled hero and his multiracial family. “I am happy and mixed up, full and empty, with what’s right and what’s gone,” says Ruben after returning the money. Readers will second those emotions. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Scott Treimel, Scott Treimel NY. Illustrator’s agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2016 Release date: 10/04/2016 Genre: Children's
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