cover image Elena Rides

Elena Rides

Juana Medina. Candlewick, $9.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1635-6

She’s eager, she’s resilient, she has a two-wheeler and a red feathered friend—but Elena, the enthusiastic purple elephant star of this early reader, still has a ways to go to polish her cycling skills. As the view zooms in, capturing Elena’s look of expectant pleasure at donning a green cycling helmet, Medina (’Twas the Night Before Pride) kicks off the elephant’s on-the-move story with maximum verve: “Elena wants to ride./ Elena buckles her helmet.” Rhythmic couplets and plenty of action verbs reveal what happens next as Elena takes off, tongue sticking out—“she pushes,/ she pedals!// She wobbles,/ and bobbles...”—and meets the first of several disasters: “KA-BANG!” She gets up and tries again, but a second fall hits harder: “Elena cries!/ She bawls!” (Her bird friend puts small wings around Elena’s leg.) The next ride gets Elena a little farther, her trunk sticking triumphantly out as she “goes, goes, goes,” but there’s more action and drama to come before, in a moment of victory, “Elena rides!” Medina captures substantial emotional highs and lows in this inspiring tale of persistence, one that’s just right for those taking on another learning curve: reading. A dual English/Spanish edition publishes simultaneously. Ages 4–6. (Mar.)