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The Bicycle Man (Sandpiper)

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  484 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
The amazing tricks two American soldiers perform on a borrowed bicycle are a fitting finale for the school sports day festivities in a small village in occupied Japan.

Book Details: Format: Paperback Publication Date: 3/27/1989 Pages: 48 Reading Level: Age 5 and Up
Paperback, 48 pages
Published March 27th 1989 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published September 13th 1982)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 10, 2014 Eve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
This is the third Allen Say book I've read this year, and being the huge Japanophile that I am, it's safe to say that I am officially a fan. I found this book today misshelved in the Education and Reference book section of a dusty old charity shop.

Set on a mountainside village near Yokohama not long after World War II, this autobiographical story takes place on sportsday–an event where all the school children and their families gather at the village school for a day of games and prizes.

On this
Esther Barajikian
"The Bicycle Man" written by Allen Say is an historical fiction book intended for primary readers. Set in occupied Japan, after the 2nd World War, this book tells the story of an amusing interaction between a group of Japanese students and two American soldiers. The book paints a lovely picture of Japanese culture as it describes a fun-filled springtime celebration. It reminds the reader that children are the same everywhere - whether they are from Japan or American. In the midst of this joyous ...more
Cate Mueller

The Bicycle Man is an autobiography explaining a day not long after World War Two where children and their families gather at the village school for sports day. This day is filled with games and prizes and the children are surprised when two American Soldiers from a nearby base show up. The two American soldiers perform on a borrowed bicycle for the finale of the sports day festivities.
Jennifer Strong
Nov 14, 2016 Jennifer Strong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, owned, 2016
The Bicycle Man by Allen Say

A Japanese school hosts a sports day. The children run races and win prizes. Their parents bring picnic lunches. Afterwards, the parents and teachers run a three-legged race. But when two American soldiers are spotted, the fun stops. People are worried even though the war ended a year ago. The soldiers just want to join in the fun, though. The tall black soldier performs tricks on the principal's bicycle to the delight of the crowd.

This is the second book by Allen S
Camille Tesch
Sep 27, 2016 Camille Tesch marked it as to-read
Japan ages 6-8
In this beautifully illustrated story, Say describes a Japanese sportsday at a small school just after WWII ended. The students are enjoying this annual school tradition when two American soldiers show up. The men borrow the principal's bicycle and delight the children, and their parents, with outrageous antics. Allan Say writes from his experience as a boy going to school in Japan and includes many details that make for a rich compare-and-contrast lesson. My students enjoyed contrasting their o ...more
Ikuya Furutani
Nov 12, 2016 Ikuya Furutani rated it it was amazing
I found this book in a bookstore and the cover page was attracting to me. The plot is that, one day, two Americans soldiers walk in a Japanese school and they enjoy a bicycle-riding race with Japanese students at the field of the school. The soldiers and the students have different culture and different, but they enjoy the race together. I think this is one of the very nice picture books.

This story is set in the post-world war two in Japan. I am a Japanese student so I read this book with point
Oct 03, 2013 Malika rated it it was amazing
This book follows a great story of schoolyard children encountering two American soldiers, who have no skill in the Japanese language but get by with body language.

The illustrations are beautifully drawn, I believe, with ink and watercolor. The main reason for me, as a teenaged artist, to pick up a children's book is to admire the illustrations. The illustrator does a great job portraying 3 dimensional scenes. The children, parents, and teachers of the schoolyard are left with their eyes closed
I chose this because it was a memory by Allen Say, and the art is beautiful, quite measured in the pen drawings, showing the delight of a field day in his school of long ago. This is a time not long after World War II ended, and on the school's happy field day, all of a sudden they spy two American soldiers watching them. One is white with bright red hair, and one is black, so very tall. They come into the schoolyard and ask the school's head if they might borrow his bicycle. When he says 'yes', ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Rodolfo rated it liked it
Shelves: race-ethnicity
I have mixed feeling about the book. In part it's a story about authentic cultural exchange. It also portrays post WWII Japan as a dreary place, in need of the color and entertainment only the US can provide. The titular bicycle man is an African American soldier. The author attributes the characteristic exoticism of the East to the soldier. Is that a positive change, or just an expression of U.S.-style racism with the trappings of a Japanese tale? The story has the structure of another white-sa ...more
Keely Wells
Sep 30, 2013 Keely Wells rated it liked it
In the story The Bicycle Man by Allen Say, it starts off talking about a schoolhouse and how the view from the school house is the town and ships in the harbor. This really doesn’t have anything to do with the story so I was a little confused at first. The rest of the book talks about a day at this school where they have a sports day. It talks about all the events that are put on and it talks about how excited all the students are. The illustrations are the same as all the other books Allen has ...more
Kenzie Woodard
Dec 02, 2012 Kenzie Woodard rated it really liked it
This picture book by Allen Say is about a school of kids in Japan who have a sports day at school. The kids all do many different activities and sports throughout the day. After many of the games, the kids have lunch then when they go back to start playing games again, they notice two men standing on the other side of the fence looking in. They were American soldiers that had been there for the war. This was the first time the kids had seen and met Americans. The American soldiers amaze them whe ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Taneka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is the book of a Japanese school boy that is participating in a school field day. During the activities, two American soldiers, one white and one black, show up. The tall black soldiers asks to use the principals bicycle and begins performing tricks for the kids, teachers and parents. The kids are amazed. They have never seen an American with red hair or a black American. The principal awards them a prize and the soldiers head back to their base.

The illustrations compliment the story and i
Becky B
In the middle of sports day at a school in Japan, two American officers wander up from their base. At first the Japanese students, parents and teachers are wary, but the men seem to be nice. One man asks to borrow the principal's bicycle and proceeds to astound the school crowd with the best part of the sports day.

I'm curious as to whether this is based on historical events or not. There's no notes in the edition I read. The book does place the time right after WWII, so it is heartening to see f
Brittany Steadman
The Bicycle Man is an interesting story set in post WWII at a Japanese school. The book describes post WWII Japan as cold and in need of color. The school was having field day when the children found entertainment from two US soldiers. I love the simple plot because it really focuses on the relationships of people post war. I find that incredibly unique and I think it's crucial to share these types of books with young readers. The ink and watercolor images added so much to the book, and it truly ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Spencer rated it really liked it
This book came from the library in which I work (ISU's Eli M. Oboler Library). I like our Juvenile section. Once in a while I discover little gems that I have never heard about--I'm not an expert on Juvy lit, and this book certainly qualifies. The kids in Japan have a sports day, and some American soldiers pay them a visit. Setting: less than a year after WWII. It had a very delightful ending. It was one my kids enjoyed, because the pictures were both detailed and funny. It did not have too many ...more
Jun 10, 2010 ABC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: younger-kids
This book teaches about Japanese culture and about American/Japanese history. It takes places right after WWII in Japan. School children are having a Sports Day (a tradition that still continues in Japan.) They notice two American soldiers from a nearby base. One of the soldiers borrows a bicycle and does tricks on it, thus developing a friendship between them.
It might be confusing if you or your child are not familiar with WWII history, but this is a good book to learn about it.
Oct 21, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
The amazing tricks two American soldiers do on a borrowed bicycle are a fitting finale for the school sports-day festivities in a small village in occupied Japan.

Lower Grades K-3

Topic - Subtopic: Award Winners-ALA Notable/Best Books; Community Life-School; Countries/Regions-Japan; Recommended Reading-California Recommended Lit., English, 3-5; Sports/Recreation-Bicycling; Wars-World War
I loved this book, most especially the last half. The first half was a retelling of a elementary school fieldday, but in Japan, so it was just interesting seeing how many things are similar to the way we do things, as well as some of the differences. Then all of the sudden, two (WWII) American soldiers come up on the scene, and then the real fun begins. I was cheering with the students and teachers and grinning and laughing too. What fun!
This is an interesting tale. An elementary school in Japan held its field day. In the middle of it they noticed two American soldiers looking on. The children were scared. The men approached and asked to borrow a bicycle. They proceeded to complete tricks and entertain the children. Then they left.

I imagine that for the author, this was a significant moment in post-World War II Japan as they came to understand their former enemies.

This story is well-told.
Oct 30, 2008 Carolynne rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Japanese children take part in a school sports day shortly after World War II. The best part of the day is a picnic! Then two American soldiers appear and entertain the school by doing tricks on a bicycle, in a moment of international harmony and friendship. Carefully detailed line and wash drawings illustrate the story. Use with "How My Parents Learned to Eat," by Ina Friedman.
Mar 02, 2013 Casey rated it it was amazing
I have always really liked this book. A great example of different perspective when looking at diversity, learning about WWII, or just talking about other cultures in general. I think the almost silly climax of the American doing tricks on the bicycle gives the book a much more child friendly approach to fear and suspicion type stories. Japanese.
Mar 18, 2009 Laura rated it liked it
While this story had a nice sentiment, I wasn't nearly as interested in it as some of Allen Say's other books. I was also a little bit disappointed with the quality of the illustrations, they weren't quite up to par. I might still recommend though.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
May 25, 2010 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
He reflects upon sportsday at school to celebrate sportsmanship in Japan. Events include races and tug of war. Parents have games as well. American soldiers watch. The presence frightens the boy. After asking to borrow a bike the solider performs tricks and wins first prize.
Kathryn Hogan
Very cute story. It has cultural diversity dealing with Japanease and american soliders. It also relates to field day in Japan. I loved the pictures, and the refrence to the war. I would suggest this book to anyone!
Amanda Day
A story about children in Japan and their first time to meet Americans. The Americans show off for them by doing tricks on a bicycle. This would be a great book for studying the culture of Japan at the time and for multicultural education.
Nov 28, 2011 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
After the author's autobiography, I finally picked up this book which I've seen for years in the children's library and never read. It's such a great story about life in post WWII Japan. A masterpiece.
Feb 28, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
Nice snapshot in time of an encounter between Japanese children and two American soldiers immediately after World War II. Say's detailed but simple illustrations, as always, capture emotion and movement, posture and facial expression. The design of the inside covers is beautiful too.
Vanita Williams
Jul 19, 2012 Vanita Williams rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to k-5 grades. The book is about a Japanese boy is impressed by the bicycle tricks of an American soldier. This is a great book for athletic students because it incorporates measurement by judging sports events.
Sierra Davis
I liked this book. it had a good story to it.
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Allen Say is one of the most beloved artists working today. He is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, and also won a Caldecott Honor and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (written by Dianne Snyder). Many of Allen’s stories are derived from his own experiences as a child. His other books include THE BICYCLE MAN, TEA WITH MILK, and TREE OF ...more
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