Unexpected Happy Endings

Candlewick sent me a copy of A Bike Like Sergio’s a few weeks back. I read it almost immediately, but it has taken me some time to pull my thoughts together about such an important book.

I predicted that in this story, the boy wanted a bike like his friend Sergio’s, and he would find a way to make the money.

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Spoiler Alert: The boy does not get a bike at the end of the story. But it is still a happy ending! And that’s what I love about it.

Ruben probably lives in poverty. We can infer that by the story. It seems like all of his friends have bikes, and he would like nothing more than one just like theirs. Unfortunately, his family cannot afford it.

When Ruben is at the store one day, a woman drops a bill. Before Ruben can get to her, he realizes it’s a $100 bill- and he hangs on to it and ponders about what the right thing to do is. He could use it to buy a bike… but of course, he’d have to cough up a story about where he got the money.

And so Ruben faces a tough situation. He sees the woman again in the store and gives her back the $100. It was probably very difficult. The woman tells Ruben that she was so thankful, and she really needed that money herself to buy groceries.

I predicted that Ruben would go home, tell his parents about the money, and they’d surprise him with the bike. But that doesn’t happen!

In reality, we like books to end nice and neat and with a happy ending. But that’s not what life is like for children learning right and wrong, and needs and wants. Children have to face the fact that even though they did something good and kind, there probably won’t be a big reward for it.

And that’s okay.

Because in the end Ruben is happy. He’s happy he did the right thing. He didn’t get exactly what he wanted- but he still found a way to be happy. And that’s an important lesson for children- you don’t have to get exactly what you want to find happiness.

This book releases this fall from Candlewick and I highly recommend it.

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