As a book reviewer and writer, I peruse a lot of industry news and this past fall saw a reference to new author, Christina Uss. A biographical detail caught my eye: she lives in East Longmeadow, MA. That right by where my sister is a high school teacher. Then I noticed the title of her debut Middle Grade book: THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE whereupon I promptly logged onto my local library catalog to see if 1) they had it and 2) it was available. I love riding my bike whether it's for fun or in a time trial or triathlon. Typically, my posts here focus on picture books so reading this book was a pleasant change. Who names their kid Bicycle, right? This is a story about an abandoned little girl who mysteriously shows up on the steps of the Nearly Silent Monastery and does not speak. Her first word to Sister Wanda (the head nun who is not silent) is “bicycle” because there’s a picture of one on her little t-shirt – hence, it becomes her name. When Bicycle is 12 she ditches a camp where she’s supposed to make friends with kids her own age on her bike (named Clunk) and embarks on a coast-to-coast adventure from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA to meet her cycling hero, Zbigniew Sienkiewicz. Along the route she meets a wide-range of memorable characters (loveable and some shady), including a Civil War ghost. Uss draws from her own cross-country bicycle experiences and does a marvelous job weaving historical facts with the variety of characters and landmarks she encounters along the way.
Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky became friends when they ran cross-country and track for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. After their collegiate years, Flanagan went on to become a Four-time Olympian, winner of the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, and World Cross Country bronze medalist and Kopecky worked for Nike Running before directing her energy to her love of cooking, becoming a chef and nutrition coach. The Tarheel teammates have remained steadfast friends throughout the years and bonded through their passion for running and healthy eating. This is their follow-up to their first venture, the New York Times bestselling RUN FAST. EAST SLOW and like the title states the recipes in RUN FAST. COOK FAST. EAT SLOW are “a quick-fix for hangry athletes.” Not only are these authors ideal athletic role models but they share an important message for all athletes: eating healthy is good for optimal athletic performances, long-term health, and happiness. In addition to easy recipes, this includes training tips, bold colorful pictures, sample meal plans, and it lays flat so I didn’t need to put my stapler on the page to hold it down when following a recipe.
This past November I tuned in to ESPN2 to watch Shalane run the 2018 TCS New York Marathon where she finished on the podium in third place (2:26:22), all while enjoying a hot bowl of Chicken Cannellini soup – a recipe from this book!