7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #602: Featuring Van Thanh Rudd

h1 September 2nd, 2018 by jules

” … is me and my brothers’ bike.”
(Click to enlarge spread, which is sans text)


I’ve a bit of art today from Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The Patchwork Bike (Candlewick, September 2018), illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd. First published in Australia and New Zealand in 2016, this is the story of a young girl, her “crazy brothers,” their “fed-up mum,” and their desert “mud-for-walls” home in a third-world country. The “best thing of all in our village,” the girl tells us, “is me and my brothers’ bike.” It is, as the title says, a patchwork bike made of spare parts — tin-can handles, wood-cut wheels, branches for handlebars, and the like.


“But the best thing of all in our village is me and my brothers’ bike.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Rudd illustrates this story via acrylics on cardboard in spacious, uncluttered spreads. (We can often see the markings of the cardboard boxes — arrows, numbers, tape, etc. The art note on the copyright page indicates this is recycled cardboard, which is important, given that the characters in the book used recycled parts to create this bike they so enjoy.) Rudd captures textures and shadows with great effect. His depictions of the siblings zooming by on their bike are kinetic wonders. As if we’re seeing it from the mother’s perspective, we see a blurry wall of motion in shades of blues and reds. The kids, while on the bike, are untouchable, and Rudd’s streaks of acrylic paints in these moments make that clear.

The inspiration for the story evidently comes from a piece in a short story collection from Clarke, called Foreign Soil. In a closing author’s note, she writes:

“Poverty is in some ways universal, though the landscape of the book is third-world poverty. I hope this book gets into schools and libraries so that kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds can have access to it. … The girl and the boys in the story love their patchwork bike just as much as a kid with a brand-new, expensive BMX bike might love theirs — or maybe even more. All they see in it is possibility and fun.”

There is also a closing author’s note from the illustrator, in which he explains the political significance of many of the choices he makes in the book. (There is, for instance, “BLM” for Black Lives Matter painted on the bark license plate the kids place on the bike.)

I also hope this book makes its way into school libraries everywhere. “Without minimizing the clear references to economic and racial struggle,” the Publishers Weekly review notes, “the words and images in this snapshot story pulse with resourceful ingenuity, joyful exuberance, and layered meanings.”

Don’t miss this one, on shelves in mid-September. …



THE PATCHWORK BIKE. Text copyright © 2016 by Maxine Beneba Clarke. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Van Thanh Rudd. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to keep it short this week so that I can get back to my long weekend. My kicks, one to seven, are time spent with friends this weekend and time with the family. I hope to actually take the day off tomorrow.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #602: Featuring Van Thanh Rudd”

  1. Hey, fly by today half way through my adventures on the road. I like the idea of a patchwork bike.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good afternoon, Imps! Happy September, everyone!

    Hello, Van Thanh Rudd! I am digging the use of the recycled cardboard. That’s awesome.

    Jules: Enjoy the time with your friends and family. You should definitely get a day off!

    Hi Jone!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Truth
    2) Study
    3) Catching up with others
    4) Music
    5) Methods
    6) Through
    7) Okay

  3. I really love this story, these energetic illustrations, and the recycled cardboard for the illustrations.

    Jules – enjoy your day off!

    Jone – enjoy your travel adventures!

    LW – Really love kicks 1, 3, 6 & 7 today.

    My quick kicks this week:
    1) Saw an incredibly beautiful sunset after a very long day.
    2) Serena Williams playing and slaying in her black tutu at the US Open. She is the GOAT.
    3) Women running for office and winning their primaries. Girl power for the win.
    4) Little victories.
    5) My legendary good luck pulling through again – car battery died only 1 block from Jiffy Lube so super easy and quick fix. Yay!
    6) Finished the last book in the #TATBILB series by Jenny Han, “Always and Forever, Lara Jean.” Sure hope Netflix makes movies of the whole series.
    7) Iliza Schlesinger comedy specials. Feminist and funny, funny, funny.
    7.5) Daisy being her sweet adorable self, as always.

    Have a great long weekend Imps!

  4. Jone, have fun on your adventures!

    LW: That sounds like a very balanced week.

    Rachel: Thanks for the comedy recommendation! I’m glad for your legendary good luck, and I had to look up what “GOAT” meant. Now I’m in the know.

    I hope you are all having a good long weekend (and that it’s actually a long weekend for each of you).

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.