“A playful story of friendship succeeds as an introduction to Beijing, its sights, language, and culture.”
Fresh from the factory, two personified bikes—Lunzi and Huangche—rest together in a bike shop in Beijing, delighting in one another’s company until each is sold to a different buyer. Huangche’s owner is a girl wearing a sky blue sweater who thinks his yellow color is perfect for her. Lunzi’s owner is a delivery boy, who races around Beijing with his messenger bag. As he travels, Lunzi keeps a hopeful eye out for Huangche’s yellow frame, but each glimpse of yellow proves to be something other than her friend—a woman’s purse, a kite, or flowers. Just when she loses hope, Lunzi’s owner and Huangche’s owner cross paths at the bakery, and the two old bike friends are reunited as a friendship begins between the owners. This simple story of friendship is also a fun vehicle for introducing young readers to a small handful of Mandarin Chinese vocabulary words as well as some sights of Beijing: Nanguan Park, the National Art Museum, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and more. Even with limited text, Robeson incorporates touching, poetic moments—“Side by side, / old friends / and new.” Wu’s cross hatching and colored pencil-like illustrations are appealing with their soft, sketched quality. Definitions for Mandarin Chinese words included in the story are provided in endnotes, though a pronunciation guide would also have been helpful.
One, two; yi, er. Side by side, two bicycles, Lunzi and Huangche, come out of the factory. Side by side, they watch the city of Beijing from their shop window. Then a young girl comes in and buys Huangche, rolling him away from Lunzi! With the help of a delivery boy, Lunzi begins an epic race to find her friend that introduces readers to all the sights and sounds of Beijing.
Teresa Robeson was born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada, and now writes and creates from her mini-homestead in southern Indiana where she lives with her scientist husband. A nonfiction winner of the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program, Teresa advocates for greater scientific and cultural literacy.