5th Grade and Up
Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian, Sister Wanda, announces that Bicycle is going to attend a camp where she will learn to make friends, Bicycle says no way and sets off on her bike for San Francisco to meet her idol, a famous cyclist, certain he will be her first true friend.
Bicycle has no way of knowing that she’ll end up with a friendly ghost haunting her handlebars and have to contend with a bike-loving horse, bike-hating dogs, bike-crushing pigs, and a bike-stealing bandit. Over the uphill and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.
When I first saw this book, I was a little put off. For one thing, who in their right mind would call a child ‘bicycle’? After I read the books’ dust jacket summary for the third time, I started getting more interested. Apparently, my eyes skipped over the phrase “a friendly ghost haunting her handlebars” the first two times. I’m really glad I read this book because it’s one of those stories that’s so good you don’t want to end. The summary above only covers a small fraction of adventures Bicycle gets into. I’m surprised so much excitement can fit into one 303-page book. Usually books with this much detail and crazy scenarios are poorly written but luckily this book was written by someone who actually knows how to tell a story and can create situations that are wacky but at the same time feel realistic.
This book was written by someone who enjoys long distance biking and for people who enjoy long distance biking. This story is actually based on the author’s real life 1996 bike trip from Washington D.C., to San Francisco, including true-to-life details and other details she wishes were true. I learned how to ride a bike, but I never got into it. I’m so afraid that I’m going to riding into something and get hurt that I’ve always stayed away from it. It’s the same reason I don’t want to drive. Even though I’m not a bike fanatic, I still really loved this book.
I looked it up on Google and there is no such thing as a Mostly Silent Monastery in real life. There is such a thing as a vow of silence where someone maintain silent as a means of protest or of deepening their spirituality. The Mostly Silent Monasteries are explained in about a page and a half in the beginning of the story. Here’s my attempt to explain it in one paragraph:
The Mostly Silent Monasteries were founded centuries ago by a monk named Bob. He believed that humans are supposed to listen more than speak, so he vowed to be Mostly Silent and dedicated his life to listening to others. Bob knew if he took a vow of total silence he wouldn’t be able to call for help in an emergency or ask for a sandwich, so he came up with the Sacred Eight Words: ‘Yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’, ‘help’, ‘now’, ‘later’, ‘sleep’, and ‘sandwich’. People would come to Bob and talk to him and he would listen. Soon more monks joined Bob in his vow of mostly silence. Eventually, there were Mostly Silent Monasteries in most U.S. States and around the globe that were open to the public, so anyone could walk in and talk about anything, for as long as they wanted, and a monk or nun would sit there and listen, guaranteed.
Until I looked it up, I absolutely believed that this was a real thing. It’s just ridiculous enough to be real and being ‘mostly silent’ is more realistic. But they missed one of the most important words: bathroom.
I don’t think I could ever write a review that would do this book justice but here is my attempt. And because I can, here’s a Frazz comic that features the discomfort of riding a bike:
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Odd Bicycle Races
At the Tour de Donut bicycle race in Ohio, riders get five seconds taken off their overall time for every donut they eat along the way.