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Zoe , Max and the Bicycle Bus

By Steven Herrick

Reviewed by Sarah Custance

Steven Herrick an award winning Australian author of over 25 books for children and young adults. He has achieved widespread critical acclaim for his verse-novel YA books. Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus is his newest novel for middle-grade audiences and is also written in verse.

The class of 5D has  a new teacher and a new cause to work towards. Their teacher, Ms. Dillon doesn’t have a car and instead rides her bike everywhere, including to school! When she asks the class who else rides to school, only Olivia raises her hand.  The class soon decides to follow her example and makes a ‘Bicycle Bus’ to school each morning with Ms Dillon leading the way.

The students each learn new and different things from their bike riding experiences, whether it is making new friends, gaining some independence, feeling closer to a departed loved one, or just having fun. Two of the students, Zoe and Max, are worried about the future of the bicycle bus as the dangers of a section on one of the main roads with no place for bicycles and their riders becomes apparent. With new skills and friends can a few year 5 students do their part to make the world a slightly better place?

With the story switching between characters and voices on almost every page, the verse genre works seamlessly to keep the audience captured and interested. The novel is a love story to bicycle riders everywhere and would challenge even the harshest critic not to feel the need to dust of their bike and go for a bit of a ride. Herrick reminds the reader of the joy, freedom, and fun that comes with riding a bicycle and the audience is left in no doubt about Herrick’s own love of riding.

With strong environmental themes leading the way the book also deals with independence, bereavement, friendships, new starts, economic struggles, and politics.  A must-have book for any avid riders or anyone that needs a bit of a push to get out and start riding again.

Teacher’s Notes

University of Queensland Press 2020

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