Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Being small wasn’t ever going to hold Oliver back. No way. Because he had big dreams, a big heart – and a big old bike.”
This book is absolutely beautiful – it combines such loveable characters with important life lessons, creating essential reading for kids, (as well as being the perfect tool for getting your kids to ride their bike more!) I’m so happy to be opening the blog tour for this perfect little book. Make sure you check out all the reviews from these other brilliant reviewers over the coming week!
Big things are happening in Little Springs…
Everything about Oliver is small, from his footprint to his glasses—and a trio of bullies never let him forget it. When Oliver receives his grandfather’s old bike for his birthday, he rides tall for the first time. However, the meanest bully in school doesn’t like that at all. Oliver finds himself challenged to a race. Now, he’ll have to be bigger than he ever imagined in order to prove heroes come in small packages too.
Oh my word, what a delightful character Oliver is! A child character with hopes and dreams always makes me smile, and this book seemed to have it all instantly. We get to know Oliver well in the first few pages which I think really helps in a children’s book. It helps a child warm to the main character and become attached to them straight away, rooting for them in whatever obstacles they face and celebrating their wins with them. It’s something rather special! The author has perfectly set the scene and made us love everything about the book. Well, everything apart from those bullies, no one likes those. Oliver’s size was a target for bullies, and his bike was even smaller than him. He’d outgrown it, and didn’t the bullies know it. I really felt for Oliver and wanted him to be as happy as possible. How could he beat the bullies?! Such a perfect start to the book that I was certain would continue throughout the story.
“Oliver went to bed that night, telling himself that tomorrow would be better. It had to be… right?”
Oliver receives a very snazzy new bike for his birthday and he is ecstatic! It also came with a heartwarming backstory about his grandfather which was really lovely to read and makes this bike extra special. However, it isn’t long before the bullies target Oliver once again, with this big old bike being the perfect basis for a new joke, making Oliver feel rubbish. The cruelty of these bullies broke my heart, and the author has done a brilliant job of making these characters ones to despise. The author has perfectly portrayed the effects of bullying in the book and it was saddening to read just how these bullies affected Oliver’s happiness. I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him everything was going to be okay! The opening to the book was perfect and I was looking forward to seeing how Oliver would beat the bullies and enjoy his bike to the fullest, no matter what anyone else said!
The book continues in such a brilliant way – text is easy to read and flows well, with short chapters enabling a child to take in everything they read and understand it before moving onto the next scene. Oliver finds himself trying to say no to a race against his bullies to prove just how fast his bike is. Could he get out of this race and tell his teachers about the trouble he’s having? The behaviour of the bullies was sure getting him down. Would Oliver choose to take part in a race to prove that he’s better and faster than them? Would they finally take a step back and leave him alone if he agreed? The tension builds well and was written in a way that made my inner child excited about what was to come! Throughout reading, the experience just seemed to get better, and Oliver’s friends were always there to help him through whatever life threw his way and they supported him when times got tough. I think we all need an Austin in our lives!
“Some people have to put others down to make themselves feel better. Never listen to it.”
Deep within the author’s words and the story she’s created, there are life lessons for children to take away, and I thought this was such an important part of the book. It teaches children not to listen to people who go out of their way to make people feel unhappy, and to appreciate exactly what they do have. I loved these messages as well as the special bond between Oliver and his parents. It’s something every child needs to read! His father’s words were absolutely true: “We all have rough days now and then, son. They’re hard, but you know what? We learn and grow stronger from them.” After this pep talk, Oliver feels confident enough to ignore the bullies and begins to love his bike again. Will his plan work? Would they finally leave him alone if their mean words were constantly ignored? I looked forward to seeing how the author ended the book, and everything so far had been perfect!
Along with their new friend, Sue, Oliver and Austin spend their free time on their bikes which took me back to my own childhood. All those happy memories came flooding back! However, the happiness is short lived after another run in with the bullies. Could Oliver keep on ignoring them this time around? I loved seeing Oliver’s confidence increase after the chat with his parents and the support of his friends! There was suddenly a character that needed immediate help, and to Oliver, nothing else mattered than saving her. I loved how his new found confidence helped him to do what he needed to do to be a hero, and reading this was just lovely. His fast bike was exactly what he needed in this situation to do what was right! Would all this change how the bullies acted towards Oliver? I was excited to see the outcome for these characters and just whether Oliver and the bullies would ever put their differences aside and be civil with one another.
“Giving his skin a quick pinch, the sting proved none of this was a dream. It was all true. How could any day get better than this?”
The fast pace and action at the end of the book created the ultimate finale, and each sentence was crafted to perfection by the author. I loved how Oliver and his friends worked together to do what was right and it just made some brilliant reading! However, it seemed Oliver’s bike had been sacrificed to save another character which was so saddening because he loved it so much. When we think everything is over, we see some shocking actions from those who wanted to thank Oliver for his heroic actions. I’m not ashamed to admit there was a lump in my throat with what happened next! We also get a shock from those bullies too… A fantastic ending to a wonderful book, and I’m already hoping I get to see more from this author in the future. I feel her words are needed to inspire younger generations and teach them important lessons! Perfect in every way.
This book transported me to my childhood for short while and it was an absolute joy to read. I loved the attention to detail with each character, and the author has given each one a personality that really sticks with you, whether a character is kind or a bully! I loved how the story focuses on a range of topics, from friendship and family bonds to the bravery and courage of one character as he stands up for himself. The book also teaches about appreciating the sentimental value of things, which was one of my favourite parts! This story is genuinely one of the most heartwarming children’s books I’ve come across and I just know that what comes next from this author will be just as brilliant.
A huge thanks to the author, Rachael Clarke, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy of the book and place on the blog tour! You can purchase your own copy of The Big Ol’ Bike over on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!