Tuesday 5 January 2016

The Boy Who Biked the World

This term, our home education group is looking at Africa so I've been looking for two Africa themed books for the book club. While looking for these, I found a review of The Boy who Biked the World and within a day or so, this was independently recommended to me. The time to buy a copy had come! 

The Boy who Biked the World  Part One:On the Road to Africa is the first in a series by Alastair Humphreys, a UK based explorer. The stories are aimed at children but are based on his experience cycling round the world for four years.
In this first book, Tom decides that he doesn't want to be teased at school for day dreaming about being an explorer and instead will cycle round the world. His parents calmly make him sandwiches, tell him to turn left at the end of the road to go south to Africa and wave him off. Tim cycles through England, France and various European countries to Turkey, the Middle East and then into Africa via Egypt. His route from then on takes him north to south through Africa via Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa and Lesotho. 

The plot is a little thin and obviously a pretext for a travel book. There is remarkably little peril beyond a worries about lions and having sufficient water in the desert. As a travelogue for children this is  engaging, has the right level of detail and has some useful lists and details, for example, about Arabic or the Nile, written as a journal. The book is a can-do introduction to adventure and a child friendly way to learn about countries. I was concerned about the implausibility of the plot. After all, who would let their primary aged child off to Africa on his own, on a bike but my children thought that this was no more unlikely than Narnia!

In terms of age, this was recommended to me by some slightly older children, tweenager and early teens but my six and nine year old are keen to find out more although I haven't read it to them yet. Recommended and yes, I plan to choose this book for the book club. In terms of content, I would be happy to read this to my six year old.

There are two further books in the series: Riding the Americas and Riding home through Asia. I haven't read these books, yet!

Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the use of my family. The opinions are those of myself, my family and the children who recommended this to me.

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  1. My now 10yos has read all three in the series and absolutely LOVED them. When he read the first two the third wasn't out, so he emailed the author, eager to know the release date. Alastair, in turn, wrote a lovely friendly reply and drew my son a picture :D. Following these books, my son then set to devouring Willard Price books ~ one after the other!!

    1. That sounds great and especially leading to other books. I was surprised at how enthusiastic my children were just hearing about these books and at the explorer game, complete with compass and binoculars which followed!

    2. My husband read the Willard Price books when he was growing up & my children enjoyed them too. The Elephant, Guerilla & Lion Adventures are some which are set in Africa. The Jungle Doctor series by Paul White, a Christian physician, is also set in Africa. Some titles would be better for older children but he wrote a lot for younger children also.