Title: Bartali’s Bicycle, The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s secret Hero
Author: Megan Hoyt
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
Publisher: Quill Tree Books, 2021
Themes: Italy, cycling, bicycles, WWII, Tour de France, Italian resistance, holocaust, athlete-activists
Gino Bartali hopped on his bicycle and bounced along the cobble stone streets of Florence, Italy. For years, he had peddled across these crowded piazzas and narrow avenues-but this day was special. Today, Gino was to begin training for his first bicycle race.
Elbows in. Head down. Face to the wind.
Gino Bartali pedaled across Italy for years, winning one cycling race after another, including the 1938 Tour de France. Gino became an international sports hero! But the next year, World War II began, and it changed everything. Soldiers marched into Italy. Tanks rolled down the cobbled streets of Florence. And powerful leaders declared that Jewish people should be arrested.
To the entire world, Gino Bartali was merely a champion cyclist. But Gino’s greatest achievement was something he never told a soul—that he secretly worked with the Italian resistance to save hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children, and others, from certain death, using the one thing no authority would question: his bicycle.
This compelling nonfiction picture book for elementary-age readers offers a unique perspective on World War II history. It’s a strong choice for units on the war and for biographies of lesser-known heroes in history and in sports.
Why I like this book:
Each page packs an emotional and an informational punch!! This hero’s story is so full of courage, perseverance and compassion and will inspire children and adults alike. It is truly a beautifully crafted biography about Gino Bartali, an Italian cyclist and Tour de France winner who joined the resistance in WWII and helped save hundreds of Jewish Italians.
This book warrants many rereads to fully appreciate the stunning period artwork and lyrical text. I thought it was going to be the the story of a Tour de France (of which I am a big fan) cyclist, but after a couple of pages you are drawn into the horrors of WWII and heroes of the Italian resistance such as Bartelli.
Brava, Megan, for so beautifully bringing this hero to young children’s attention. A must-read!
Back matter includes author’s note, time line and sources.
It is sure to inspire thoughtful conversations about how we can show bravery to stand up against injustice in our world.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.