The Great Pebble Creek Bike Race


108 pages
ISBN 1-55028-442-8
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Frances Clancy
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual’s
Children’s Literature edition.


Matt needs a new bike, but neither he nor his parents can afford one.
The town has organized a bike race, with a bike as the grand prize, to
celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding. Matt and his friends
David and Mike, as well as new girl Amanda, all make the first cut to
compete in the race, and all hope to win the grand prize. Meanwhile,
Matt encourages his new friend, elderly Mr. Grubb, to enter his antique
bike in the Grand Parade of Bikes, which also has a bike as its grand

All does not go smoothly. David, who is Greek and smart, and Mike, who
is neither, can’t stand each other. Amanda, who is deaf, turns out to
be a surprisingly good rider (for a girl). Amanda, of course, wins the
race, and the bike, but Matt is not unrewarded. After Matt’s bike is
wrecked during the race, Mr. Grubb’s old bike is honored with the
other grand prize, which he graciously gives to Matt.

The story is well paced and will hold the interest of the middle-grade
student at whom it is aimed. Nevertheless, the characters are
stereotypes, and annoying ones at that. Amanda is deaf, but pretty,
smart, and talented. David is Greek (read different), but sensitive and
smart. Matt and Mike perceive themselves to be not smart, but learn to
respect both their own talents and those of the other kids. Frankly,
they are all too good to be true. Add to this Stinson’s irritating
reliance on the sad old “she’s a girl so the boys can’t like or
respect her until she proves herself” plot device and we have a truly
unimaginative, predictable book. What would have happened if neither
Amanda nor Mr. Grubb had won a prize, or if only one of them had won?
Since everybody got what he or she deserved and/or needed, the
potentially negative effects of true competition on the children’s
relationships are neatly, but artificially, avoided. Too bad life’s
not like that. Fortunately, most children reading this book will easily
see through its condescending, perfect neatness. Not a first-choice


Stinson, Kathy., “The Great Pebble Creek Bike Race,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,