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Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face
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Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  49 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  205 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Start your review of Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face
A bit simplistic but good for the younger PB crowd who may not be ready for a more in-depth look. The back matter elaborates some and is what I found most interesting. I kind of wish there was a little more to the story, either including some real people from history (I believe the protagonist is fictional) or a bit more details about the overarching women's rights movement. However, I did appreciate the try-and-try-again attitude presented and that it is the girl's brother who helps her learn t ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Cyclists / Readers Looking for Children's Stories About Historical Restrictions on Girls
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
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 ...more
Sierra Miedaner
This is a beautiful book describing one young girl's small but substantial attempt at making change for women's equality. In the time period of this story, it was frowned upon for women to wear pants instead of skirts, and they were not to ride bicycles. But that is all the protagonist wanted to do. Through the authors empowering words, we got to witness the transition that the girl started from where no girls were riding bikes, to her whole town riding them. She started the movement because it ...more
Stacy M. Patton
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book! I choose very few children’s books to keep on my library shelf, but this is one of them! Why do I love this book so much?

First of all, this book is gorgeous - brilliantly illustrated. I could look at these drawings/pictures for long periods of time! You could learn so much about the time period from just observing these amazing illustrations!

Second, I love history! This book is a story of a girl living in 1896, when girls were not allowed to wear pants or ride bicycle
Amy Aldridge
I just love love love this book! It’s based on a true story around the time of the suffragettes and draws on incredibly important ideas around the emancipation of women. Theule, very cleverly, brings a complex story in history into terms a child of either KS1 or KS2 could understand yet she still does it justice. Wow is all I have to say! A must read!
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
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!
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young bicycle, history and women's lib requests
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!
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book has so much potential, yet does not deliver. While it touches on an important piece of history, the book ends as it should be gaining momentum. Louisa Belinda wants to learn to ride her brother Joe's bike, which was an activity that was frowned upon for girls and women when this story takes place just before the turn of the century. With some perseverance, she succeeds, which inspires her mother, who can be seen in the illustrations to be active in the suffragist movement. This, along, ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
“Let me tell you what I think about bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.” — Susan B. Anthony

The story features a young girl named Louisa Belinda Bellflower who, after seeing her brother ride his bicycle, decides she wants to learn. She dons a pair of her brother’s trousers and asks Joe to teach her. “What about bicycle face? A condition that supposedly happened to women because th
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2nd, 1st, 0-k
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 ...more
Aileen Stewart
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of a small girl in the late 1800's who wants to do the unthinkable. She wants to ride her brother's bike. And in order to do so, she also puts on her brother's pants to make the job much easier. At that time in our history, women and girls were told they couldn't do the same things that men and boys were doing. And to keep them from wanting to do things like ride bikes, they were told it was detrimental to their health. They were told they would get maladies like bicycl ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: und, tl328
Louise Belinda and her brother Joe lead very different lives. Joe is allowed to wear more comfortable clothing and ride a bike. When he’s older, he’s guaranteed the right to vote. Louise Belinda has to wear layers of uncomfortable clothing, is not allowed to ride a bike, and women do not have the right to vote yet. Louise Belinda decides to risk the possible medical consequences she’s heard about, and decides to learn how to ride a bike anyway. involved with learning to ride a bike. This book is ...more
Raven Black
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, this is a book about a girl being taught to ride her bicycle by her brother. Looking deeper it is a piece of history for women's rights. The illustrations show what is happening in the "Grown Up World" in the background, as the foreground shows how a young girl defies the issues women face by just riding a bike. The idea of "Bicycle Face" was fairly new to me (I might have heard of it but did not remember). And Theule creates a work that shoots that idea down in many ways. This p ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book by chance! I read the subtitle 3 times and was sure it was bicycle Race, even though it was clear bicycle face.

Of course, this all gets explained and what bicycle race actually is!!
I love the girl power, girl rights, and girl's can ride bikes story. I like the pictures and the story and all the fun.
I like that at the end the author's notes talk about 'bicycle face' and voting rights.
The question is... Louisa Belinda Bellflower a real person!?
Not sure it matters as in the
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Historical Fiction
Awards: n/a
Audience: Middle school
Louisa Belinda is a young courageous girl on a 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.
1. The setting is in 1896. The story particularly takes place in a Louisa's house and outside where she is learning to ride her bike. They women and men are dressed up very nice dresses and hats with clothes showing the late 1800's.
2. The point
Savannah Sessions
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book. Full disclosure, I am 100% biased as a cyclist and a feminist. But everything about this book brought me joy. The illustrations are darling - especially the bicycle faces! The story flows well, and tells an important history without being dry or overwhelming. At the end of the book, there are two sections with background information. I had no idea about bicycle face before reading this book, but "Like Louisa Belinda..." I know "that a true bicycle face is one of ...more
Haley Akers
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book! A little girl is living in 1896, when women didn't have rights and were required to act as a "lady" even as young girls. Louisa wanted to ride her bike like her brother but was nervous about the myth "bicycle face", where women and girls eyes would bulge out and their jaws would close up. She chose not to believe this and learn to ride. Throughout the book you see a lot of "VOTES FOR WOMEN" signs and by the end of the story there are a number of women on bicycles holdi ...more
Kaleigh Wright
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a girl who was told she couldn't wear anything but a skirt and couldn't ride a bicycle and despite all odds she found a way to do what she desired despite her gender. She rode a bike and even convinced her Mom to ride as well.
The story is set in Rochester, New York in 1896.
The story is told from 3rd person POV and it impacts the story by giving us insight to all of the characters' thought process which is important in such a gender role heavy story. It is important we un
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
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. ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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. 😜🚲 ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Wonderful! A story about a young girl, Louisa Belinda Bellflower, who in 1896 decided to topple conventional thinking and ride a bike, even though that was not something girls were supposed to do. Set against a backdrop of the Women's Rights Movement, this is a great story and a good example of how a picture book can tell an additional story in the illustartions alone. ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although unimpressed by the cover, as soon as I opened the book I was delighted. I love this take on the feminist movement. The main character, Louisa, decides to be brave and try riding a bicycle despite the social stigma. The last line is well-written and highly satisfying. A wonderful read for young girls (instead of princess books!).
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
About a girl in 1896 who wants to ride a bicycle, but in the days when women and girls weren't really "allowed" to do least not without some criticism and warnings about things like 'you'll get bicycle face!'

Features her mother, who is a bravo there. (My daughter is all about learning about these women, and I support this wholly.)
Heidi Doyle
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Larissa Theule has given us a look in the past, before women had the right to vote and had to wear long skirts all the time. One little girl dreams of riding a bicycle amidst lots of change that is depicted in the pictures by Kelsey Garrett-Riley. I love the message of perseverance, especially when experiencing multiple failures.
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. ...more
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Larissa Theule lives with her family in Southern California.

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