Mole Gets Wheels! Off We Go! A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand
"BEAR, I NEED SOME HELP."
MOLE GRINNED. "THESE NEED TO COME OFF. I'M READY TODAY," HE DECLARED.
Bear and Mole are headed off to return their library books when Mole suddenly decides he's ready to ride his bike--without training wheels. Bear helps with the mechanics, and the two proudly affix the tall bike flag to his bicycle. Mole snaps on his helmet with a determined air, and with a gentle helping push from Bear, he takes off.
WOBBLE WOBBLE WOBBLE.
Not an auspicious beginning for Mole's maiden bike hike!
"I CAN'T!" HE SOBS.
"I THINK YOU CAN!" SAYS BEAR.
Bear helps Mole up and back into the saddle, and Mole gamely begins to pedal. Bear urges him to go faster, and he begins to get his balance.
"YOU'RE DOING IT! CRIES BEAR.
There's many a weave and a wobble, a bounce and a jounce along the way, even a few comic near mishaps, but this time Mole stays upright, in the saddle, all the way to the park where the bookmobile is parked and waiting for patrons, in Will Hillenbrand's third book in his series, Off We Go!: A Bear and Mole Story (Holiday House, 2013). Mole and Bear are quintessential storybook pals, with each one taking his turn at shepherding the other through life's various journeys. This time it is Mole's turn to venture into a new experience, to solo sans training wheels, and Hillenbrand's charming illustrations of the two friends portray gentle affection and loyal support for a milestone trip. As Publishers Weekly puts it, "Clipped sentences, onomatopoeic phrases, and the unpredictability of a wayward bike create a fun follow-up about this pair."
Pair this latest with its predecessors (take two; they're small!), Spring Is Here! (Bear and Mole Story) (see my 2011 review here), and A Kite Day (Bear and Mole Story) (see my 2012 review here.)