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Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face

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Louise Belinda Bellflower lives in Rochester, New York, in 1896. She spends her days playing with her brother, Joe. But Joe gets to ride a bicycle, and Louise Belinda doesn't. In fact, Joe issues a solemn warning: If girls ride bikes, their faces will get so scrunched up, eyes bulging from the effort of balancing, that they'll get stuck that way FOREVER! Louise Belinda is Louise Belinda Bellflower lives in Rochester, New York, in 1896. She spends her days playing with her brother, Joe. But Joe gets to ride a bicycle, and Louise Belinda doesn't. In fact, Joe issues a solemn warning: If girls ride bikes, their faces will get so scrunched up, eyes bulging from the effort of balancing, that they'll get stuck that way FOREVER! Louise Belinda is appalled by this nonsense, so she strikes out to discover the truth about this so-called "bicycle face." Set against the backdrop of the women's suffrage movement, Born to Ride is the story of one girl's courageous quest to prove that she can do everything the boys can do, while capturing the universal freedom and accomplishment children experience when riding a bike.


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Louise Belinda Bellflower lives in Rochester, New York, in 1896. She spends her days playing with her brother, Joe. But Joe gets to ride a bicycle, and Louise Belinda doesn't. In fact, Joe issues a solemn warning: If girls ride bikes, their faces will get so scrunched up, eyes bulging from the effort of balancing, that they'll get stuck that way FOREVER! Louise Belinda is Louise Belinda Bellflower lives in Rochester, New York, in 1896. She spends her days playing with her brother, Joe. But Joe gets to ride a bicycle, and Louise Belinda doesn't. In fact, Joe issues a solemn warning: If girls ride bikes, their faces will get so scrunched up, eyes bulging from the effort of balancing, that they'll get stuck that way FOREVER! Louise Belinda is appalled by this nonsense, so she strikes out to discover the truth about this so-called "bicycle face." Set against the backdrop of the women's suffrage movement, Born to Ride is the story of one girl's courageous quest to prove that she can do everything the boys can do, while capturing the universal freedom and accomplishment children experience when riding a bike.

30 review for Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face

  1. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    Although warned by her brother Joe about the dangers of "bicycle face" - the bulging eyes and scrunched-up expression that female bikers were in danger of getting stuck with, if they pursued the masculine activity of bicycling - Louisa Belinda Bellflower decided to risk it, and learn to cycle. With a pair of borrowed trousers, Joe's patient instruction, and a lot of perseverance, she eventually mastered this new activity. But what would her mother think...? Although the illustrations from Kelsey Although warned by her brother Joe about the dangers of "bicycle face" - the bulging eyes and scrunched-up expression that female bikers were in danger of getting stuck with, if they pursued the masculine activity of bicycling - Louisa Belinda Bellflower decided to risk it, and learn to cycle. With a pair of borrowed trousers, Joe's patient instruction, and a lot of perseverance, she eventually mastered this new activity. But what would her mother think...? Although the illustrations from Kelsey Garrity-Riley provide an answer to that question, in their depiction of the children's mother and her suffrage activism, it is still a pleasure watching Louisa being given the encouragement she deserves, when her mother discovers her attire and activities. An informative afterword from author Larissa Theule gives more information about the dawn of cycling, which was initially considered a scandalous and immodest activity for girls and women. "Bicycle Face" was an actual concept, and while either sex could be afflicted with it (in the popular imagination of the day, anyhow), it was more commonly applied to women, as a means of discouraging them from the activity. Informative and entertaining by turns, Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face pairs a simple fictional narrative with a more detailed non-fictional afterword and bright, appealing artwork. Recommended to young cyclists, of whatever sex, and to anyone looking for children's stories about one of the historical restrictions put on young girls' behavior.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Dulaney

    "Bicycle Face" was a terrible affliction for girls who defied convention and dared to ride a bicycle, or so said those who were determined to limit women and girls to wearing only skirts and using their feet for travel. Larissa Theule writes a wonderful picture book about a young girl who is determined to ride a bike just like her brother does and even goes so far as to put on a pair of his pants. Wonderful illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley show Louisa's grit and also incorporates a variety "Bicycle Face" was a terrible affliction for girls who defied convention and dared to ride a bicycle, or so said those who were determined to limit women and girls to wearing only skirts and using their feet for travel. Larissa Theule writes a wonderful picture book about a young girl who is determined to ride a bike just like her brother does and even goes so far as to put on a pair of his pants. Wonderful illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley show Louisa's grit and also incorporates a variety of women fighting for the right to vote. Backmatter elaborates on the so-called Bicycle Face and the emphasis on male only bike-riding. Also included is information on the suffrage movement in the 1890s and until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified. Great book to pair with those who read Christina Uss' award-winning "Bicycle Girl" or who enjoy historical fiction. Target audience is likely grades 2-5.

  3. 5 out of 5

    June

    A historical fiction picture book of a girl who learns to ride a bicycle despite the threat of bicycle face. After all, she could balance just as well as her brother walking logs and he hadn't gotten it. Her bicycle face turns out to be a "gigantic, joyous smile." Absolutely love the afterword: From Bicycles to Votes!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Well crafted picture book with some interesting historical information about the liberating impact of the bicycle on women. I had never heard of bicycle face!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    We've all heard about different things that were allowed only for men and boys in the past (yes, there are still things like that today) but I never realized riding a bicycle was one of them. In this book, a young girl decides that she wants to ride her brother's bicycle despite the fact that they are both worried she will get "bicycle face" since women are too fragile to ride. Her brother helps her and she starts a trend. Not only is there wonderful factual information at the back of the book t We've all heard about different things that were allowed only for men and boys in the past (yes, there are still things like that today) but I never realized riding a bicycle was one of them. In this book, a young girl decides that she wants to ride her brother's bicycle despite the fact that they are both worried she will get "bicycle face" since women are too fragile to ride. Her brother helps her and she starts a trend. Not only is there wonderful factual information at the back of the book talking about where and when "bicycle face" and "wheelwomen" started, but it helps to explain how things like riding a bicycle were steps towards getting the votes for women. One of the great things about this book is the second story that is being told in the illustrations as her mother works with other suffragettes to gain the right to vote. It could be fun for kids to write the text to that story as well.

  6. 5 out of 5

    BiblioBickie

    Touches on role of bicycle in helping women move their freedom forward. Positive role of brother Joe, who helps Louisa Belinda learn. Louisa Belinda shows perseverance and resilience, staying committed despite falling down again and again. Joe is a patient teacher despite the blurb in the front that makes it sound like they are in an antagonistic relationship. They are both afraid of "bicycle face" for her, but she takes the risk. Includes a lot of references to women's suffrage in the illustrat Touches on role of bicycle in helping women move their freedom forward. Positive role of brother Joe, who helps Louisa Belinda learn. Louisa Belinda shows perseverance and resilience, staying committed despite falling down again and again. Joe is a patient teacher despite the blurb in the front that makes it sound like they are in an antagonistic relationship. They are both afraid of "bicycle face" for her, but she takes the risk. Includes a lot of references to women's suffrage in the illustrations. All people shown are white except for one house that has a brown family, and a couple of brown faces in what look like women's suffrage activities. There is also a woman in a wheelchair depicted twice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Effie

    Great picture book about overcoming fears and learning to do something that feels right even when society might frown on it. I loved how the illustrations set this story smack in the middle of the women's suffrage movement allowing the story to focus on the little girl in this time learning to ride a bike while also leaving open opportunity for discussion about women's rights. This book was lovely.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    The year is 1896 and a young girl named Louisa wants to learn how to ride a bicycle even though girls are discouraged from doing so. This is because of a so-called "bicycle face" they might get when riding that will supposedly not go away. Despite this, she enlists her brother's help and learns to ride though she falls frequently at the beginning. Set against the backdrop of the suffrage movement, this is a great picture book about not giving up and achieving goals.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Reading about the history of bicycling is always fun. It's amazing to think about how very popular bicycles were at a certain time in our history. This book focuses on how women were told not to ride a bicycle because the exertion would cause them to get 'bicycle face'! Ack. So strange but true. Nicely done.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The lengths people go to oppress others always amazes me. In this book I learned that people tried to keep women from riding bikes (thus leading to being stronger and having more independence) by saying that they would get "bicycle face": bug eyes and a tight jaw that would stay that way forever. ­čśť­čÜ▓

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Historical information on the early days of bike riding - especially for women riders. Story of a brave young girl who learned to ride and then rode regardless of the obstacles and the fear of "bicycle face". Explanation of bicycle face along with a brief history of female riders at the end of the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Robek

    Did you know women didn't ride bicycles? Louisa Belinda Bellflower didn't accept this and ditched her dress for her brother's pants. Interesting thoughts about what would happen to women if they did ride a bicycle.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erendira

    I absolutely love the historical references here. My daughter and I learned a lot about a woman's right to ride a bicycle (yes, that was a thing). It's quite astonishing how far women went to actually do such an activity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    A lovely illustrated look at how women had to fight for their right to vote AND ride bikes. I liked the story and it had a lovely message to it, there was also a nice historical note at the end explaining the time period in more detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This was a neat story. I've never heard of 'bicycle face.'

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This book is a lot whiter than I'd prefer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Cool link between the contoversies about women riding bicycles and the suffrage movement.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Yay for Rochester! Very sweet, important story, the illustrations were beautiful and really added multiple layers to the story. Go Louise Belinda and go Louise Belinda's Mom!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Great to use for teaching about womenÔÇÖs suffrage and inventions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mahlon

    I wish this were a little longer and delved more into the sexist taunt of bicycle face, but this is still a great little book. I love the backmatter. #1 favorite work concerning bicycle face is still Kate Beaton, though.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sharie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Elliott

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anita Yasuda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Rutherford

  27. 4 out of 5

    Syntha Green

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tara

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