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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

    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!

  3. 4 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 4 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. 😜🚲

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

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

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

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

  10. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Great to use for teaching about women’s suffrage and inventions.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anita Yasuda

  14. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Rutherford

  16. 4 out of 5

    Syntha Green

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Mattmiller

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nafiza

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma Farley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eero Schmunk

  25. 5 out of 5

    Val

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Craig

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hullabaloo

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