cover image Girl on a Motorcycle

Girl on a Motorcycle

Amy Novesky, illus. by Julie Morstad. Viking, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-593-11629-6

In 1973, a 28-year-old woman got on a motorcycle in Paris and circled the globe alone, crossing continents, scaling mountains, and visiting parts of the planet that most people never see. This engaging picture book biography by Novesky (Cloth Lullaby) is full of the sense of freedom that its subject, Anne-France Dautheville, a white woman, reveled in. Although things went wrong—her bike broke down repeatedly, and she fell often—her experiences as a traveler affirmed her expectations: “I want the world to be beautiful, and it is beautiful. I want people to be good, and they are good.” Morstad uses delicate lines and luminous wash to draw the things the “girl” carried (“girl,” used throughout, is an English translation of the French word demoiselle, which Dautheville used for herself), the people she met, and the scenery she rode through. Readers follow her from the Yukon, where she finds transcendent beauty in a warm pool under the Northern Lights, to Afghanistan, where she climbs the great Buddhas of Bamiyan, and home to Paris. She drinks in new experiences and brings new ideas everywhere she goes: “Who are you? ...Where are you going?” girls in Bombay ask her. Though the book fails to address matters of privilege inherent in global travel, it’s a testimony to fearlessness that challenges traditional gender expectations. Ages 5–9. [em](Sept.) [/em]