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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

I absolutely loved the first Frank and Bert book, so I had high expectations when I saw there was a sequel. This follow-up to the adorable yet unlikely fox-and-bear friendship features Frank (the fox) teaching Bert (the bear) how to ride a bike. Again we get the laughs from Bert being a bit of a doofus: he “wibble-wobbles all over the place”, narrowly missing a brood of ducklings, running over a racoon’s tail, boofing into a branch. Frank promises to hold the back of Bert’s bike so he can practise balancing - but Frank gets over-confident in Bert’s abilities and lets go too soon, causing Bert to crash - and boy, is Bert cross! How can Frank make it up to him? And will Bert eventually find the determination and confidence to succeed on two wheels?

The feel-good, funny ending and the gorgeous, eye-catching illustrations will undoubtedly win over younger readers. I also really like the realism of the friendship issues and resolutions portrayed by the author, which tamariki will be able to relate to.

It’s a bit cute having a subtitle harking to episode titles for the hit show Friends (“The One Where…”) - and possibly it’s an indicator that Naylor-Ballesteros intends on extending this fox-and-bear partnership into a series. If that’s the case, I just hope he can make the illustrations wordlessly funny in their own right once more, the way he did so well in the first Frank and Bert book, as I think that is surely the mark of a skilful picture book author-illustrator: that the words weave a rich aural tapestry of story, and the pictures not only support the text, but tell their own story too.

Reviewer: Stacey Anyan

Allen & Unwin


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