The Red Bicycle

Hardcover Jacket
978-1-77138-023-2 | Mar 1, 2015 List Price:
USD $18.99, CAD $19.99

4-color • 9 x 12 • 32 pages
Grades: 3 To 7 / Ages: 8 to 12

978-1-77138-558-9 | Apr 7, 2020 List Price:
USD $10.99, CAD $12.99

In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, as a child’s favorite mode of transportation. Leo treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name — Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red and decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family’s sorghum field and to the market. When Alisetta earns enough for a new bicycle, she gives Big Red to a man who is fixing up old bikes for a medical clinic. The bicycle finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who renames it Le Grand Rouge and gives it a new purpose – delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.

This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin’s digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of the characters’ lives in North America and Burkina Faso. The story highlights just how valuable bicycles are as a mode of transportation all over the world, and how our actions can make a difference in other people’s lives. This book also offers character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy.


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Educational Resources


Global awareness
Cultures, Local & Global Community


Guided Reading
Guided Reading Grade Level
Lexile Level



bicycles   transportation   multiculturalism   Africa   Burkina Faso   global awareness   sharing   donation   cause and effect   charitable acts   helping others


Teaching Guide
Book Trailer

Reviews & Awards


“A fine addition to the CitizenKid series.”
Booklist, February 2015

“A strong option for social studies curricula, this noteworthy title will encourage kids to think globally.”
School Library Journal, March 2015

“Isabella’s straightforward and specific prose is brought to life by Shin’s textured and upbeat illustrations, which provide windows into the different places along Big Red’s route.”
The Horn Book Magazine, May 2015

“… it provides an extensive amount of clearly written information, from how a bicycle is transported across the continents to the ripple of economic benefits felt throughout the community.”
Quill & Quire, April 2015

“Appealingly illustrated by Shin, this is a particularly good depiction of the ripple effect that can follow one generous act.”
The New York Times, May 2015

“… offers multiple access points and opportunities for critical literacy lessons and dialogue focusing on equity and critical and responsible citizenship.”
ETFO Voice, January 2017


2017 Crown Award, Triple Crown Children's Book Awards, Short-listed
2016 2016/2017 Children’s Choice Book Award, Hackmatack, Long-listed
2016 Outstanding International Book, USBBY, Winner
2016 CCBC Choices List, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Winner
2016 Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, BC Book Prizes, Short-listed
2015 Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Winner
2015 Best Bets Junior Non-Fiction, Ontario Library Association, Winner