DUCK ON A BIKE
David Shannon, . . Scholastic/Blue Sky, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-05023-4
Shannon serves up a sunny blend of humor and action in this delightful tale of a Duck who spies a red bicycle one day and gets "a wild idea." Sure enough, in no time flat, he's tooling around the farmyard. A succession of his barnyard friends greet him politely enough, but their private responses range from scornful ("That's the silliest thing I've ever seen," from Cow) to boastful ("You're still not as fast as me," from Horse) to wistful ("I wish I could ride a bike just like Duck," from Mouse). Then a herd of kids rides down the road in a blur of dust; they park their bikes and head indoors. A wordless spread records the sublime moment when the animals all gather with identical wide-eyed looks and sly smiles. Readers can almost see what they're thinking, and sure enough, the next spread shows them all zipping around on bikes, with Duck in the lead. Shannon makes the most of awkward appendages on wheels and handlebars, and deftly balances clean compositions with just the right amount of detail. Varying perspectives—including the chicken's-eye-view of Duck's bike wheel looming large—provide plenty of good-natured dash. Add to all this the abundant opportunity for youngsters to chime in with barnyard responses ("M-o-o-o"; "Cluck! Cluck!"), and the result is one swell read-aloud, packed with freewheeling fun. Ages 3-up.
Reviewed on: 12/17/2001