cover image Summer Wheels

Summer Wheels

Eve Bunting. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-207000-7

This early chapter book gently reinforces the credo that ``with freedom comes responsibility''--even in the middle of summer vacation. Lawrence and Brady love to spend their days riding and doing bicycle stunts. Luckily the boys have befriended the kindly Bicycle Man who fixes up the vehicles and loans them out to neighborhood children--as long as they follow the rules: ``Sign a bike out and sign a bike in. And if it breaks while you have it, you fix it.'' But when a ragamuffin boy signs out the best bike under the name ``Abrehemstet Lincoln'' and doesn't return it, Lawrence and Brady aim to teach him some respect. Bunting's text is a bit short on action, though her characters' personalities shine. Her dialogue rings true, and she deftly sidesteps pedanticism in her handling of confrontations. Allen's sketchy pastels, rendered primarily in grays and browns, succeed on two levels: the muted tones give a true sense of a working garage and also amplify the gritty realities of underprivileged urban children alluded to in the text. Every neighborhood should have a Bicycle Man. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)