MAY 26:

  • Happy birthday Ann Schlee (Ask Me No Questions), Sheila Greenwald (Rosy Cole series), Adrienne Kennaway (Greedy Zebra), Lisbeth Zwerger (Gift of the Magi), Jennifer Roy (Mindblind) and twin sister Julia DeVillers (Liberty Porter, First Daughter), and Raina Telgemeir (Smile).
  • Jazz musician Miles Davis (1926-1991) was born on this day. Read Lookin’ for Bird in the Big City by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Marek Los.
  • Best birthday wishes to astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space. Read Mission: Planet Earth by Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy. And by the way, it’s Sally Ride Day!

Organizers of National Bike Month—established to celebrate bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation—estimate that five million people will participate in biking activities across the country during May. Certainly for many people, nothing says “good weather” and “good times” as much as the idea of a bike trip, however long or short. I just wish the National Bike Month organizers would expand their anticipated population—after all, many animals might like to take a spin as well!

This delightful premise lies behind David Shannon’s Duck on a Bike, first published in 2002. Shannon consistently crafts picture books that tell fascinating stories and contain the right balance of text and art. With unusual perspectives in the illustrations that are drenched with bright, sunny color, Duck on a Bike showcases all of his talents.

On the title page, we meet our hero: Duck looks at a huge bicycle and strokes his chin. What is he thinking? On the first page readers learn that Duck has a wild idea: He can ride a bike! So he waddles over to a boy’s bike, jumps aboard, and then wobbles away. Soon Duck gets his bike legs and realizes just how much fun he can have.

In a repetitive-pattern story, Duck rides past some barnyard creatures and says hello. Although all the cow does is moo or the sheep baas, they each have basically negative thoughts about biking. The dog chases Duck, and the cat “wouldn’t waste my time riding a bike!”, but none of this fazes our hero who moves jauntily along, enjoying a wonderful day. Goats, pigs, mice, and a horse all weigh in with their thoughts, until a group of kids race down the road. They park their bikes beside a house and go inside. The next wordless double-page spread shows only the animals with their faces quite animated. Then they all jump on a bike and ride around the barnyard. In a humorous end to the tale, all bikes get returned, with their owners none the wiser. On the last page we see our hero again—sizing up a tractor.

As funny and lighthearted as this book is, it also explores some serious ideas. A fourth grader in Ohio named Kerri felt that the book encouraged her not to be disheartened by others’ negative comments. Since Duck doesn’t care what others think, his approach to life gave her a way to respond differently. “When my brother teases me,” she said, “I won’t care.”

Personally, I would cheer for Duck if he ever took on the Tour de France. But in the meantime parents and children, ages one through ten, can enjoy reading and rereading about Duck’s escapades in this totally satisfying picture book.

Here’s a page from Duck on a Bike:


Originally posted May 26, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Ducks, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Duck on a Bike


  1. Sarah says:

    What a great choice for “Bike Day” I love all of Shannon’s books, but I guess my favorite is GOOD BOY, FERGUS.

  2. Mindi says:

    David Shannon has been a fixture in my house since my oldest discovered “No David” when she was about three. I can ‘t tell you how many times I’ve read “Duck on a Bike” with my kids over the past several years, but I can tell you that thanks to Shannon’s great illustrations, it never gets old. Thank you for bringing back great memories this morning!

  3. Erica S. says:

    Another one for my niece’s library!

  4. Laurina says:

    We’re riding every day now, in training for a 5-day bike trip in June. I planned on putting together a biking booklist on my blog and now I have my first title. Thanks for getting me started.

  5. suzi w. says:

    oh, i will have to look for this one. My duties of singing and reading to babies is over for the year, but I will be doing a few “picture book picnics” (where kids bring their lunch for outside storytime) and this looks perfect.

    I have to re-learn every time I get back on a bike and hilly Pittsburgh is NOT great for that, but I have great bike riding memories. I will have to share this book with my brother, who probably already knows it is Bike Month.

    Thanks again, Anita!!

  6. Tammy DiBartolo says:

    This is my all-time favorite book to read at storytime.

  7. Cathy says:

    Love this one! When I read this to elementary students in the library this year, they loved seeing all the animals riding bikes of their own! They also enjoyed looking for Fergus. You know David Shannon includes his Westie in all of his books? Can you find him?

  8. McCourt says:

    We have really fallen for David Shannon’s books at our house. They are guaranteed to get a true belly laugh from my 4-year-old so I am a sucker for them now (love that laugh!). We just got Duck on a Bike from the library and were so charmed. We also love looking for Fergus!

  9. bamauthor says:

    Actions do speak louder than words!

  10. Donna says:

    I LOVE this book! My nephews do, too! We’ve read it many times. We’ve enjoyed the silliness and fun of it, but I’ve never explored the “rising above negativity” aspect because I simply didn’t think of it! Am going to try that out next read. In the meantime, this is what makes a great picture book great. The different layers. Thanks for highlighting this one!

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