Leo rides his beloved red bicycle to school, soccer practice and everywhere in between. He is devastated when he outgrows Big Red. But when Leo learns of a bicycle donation program, he perks up -- someone who really needs his bike can give it a new life. Little does he know that Big Red will change other people's lives, too. Follow the bike as it travels to West Africa, where it helps people in Burkina Faso bring goods to the market, and serves as a makeshift ambulance, proving that an ordinary bicycle can be truly extraordinary.
Grades 3-6. Leo, a North American boy, saves his money to buy a bicycle, which he names Big Red. When he has outgrown it, he donates it to an organization that sends bikes to African countries. Alisetta, an orphan in Burkina Faso who lives with her grandmother, chooses Big Red as her bicycle and uses it to earn money to send her brother and sister to school. Later, a medical clinic buys it and, adding a canopied trailer, transforms it into an ambulance. Haridata rides Big Red to nearby villages, providing medical care and occasionally carrying a patient back to the clinic. Each segment of Big Red’s journey has characters and details that make it distinct and interesting, but the book also succeeds in encouraging reuse and increasing global awareness. Shin’s illustrations use texture and layering to good effect. In one image, a pale world map provides the backdrop for a scene that simultaneously shows the route of Big Red’s journey and a street scene in Africa. A fine addition to the CitizenKid series.