Looking for some new picture books to check-out from your local library or to add to your bookshelf? Today’s picture book review is all about Bessie Stringfield in “Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride” by Joel Christian Gill.
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I had never heard of Bessie Stringfield before coming across this picture book! However, I was immediately invested in her story after reading this picture book.
Did you know that Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to travel solo across the United States ON A MOTORCYCLE?!? Considering that women riders are still not taken seriously as a buyer group (here’s another article about women motorcycle riders), that’s such a cool thing to have accomplished!
Picture Book Review
→ Book Summary & Review
“Have you ever been told you are not enough?” Bessie Stringfield was.
In this picture book, Bessie is taunted by boys that she is not fast enough. Bessie faces some insecurity about not being fast enough on her bike, but that night she dreams that she races across the skies and into space. The next day, when the boys come around, Bessie is ready. She zooms across the page and leaves the boys behind!
→ Illustrations Review
I thought the layouts in “Fast Enough” were done in a simple, more traditional manner, but it worked well with the story. The images took up most of the space, with the text being on the smaller side. There is one particular section where I loved how the illustrator drew the transition of Bessie riding into the skies and space. I also really appreciated Bessie’s physical look as a little girl, especially her curly hair!
→ Any Book Extras?
Yes! The end of the book provides some facts about the real-life Bessie Stringfield, and there was also a picture of her!
I’ve only recently started digging into Bessie’s story, and it’s quite a story! If you’re interested in reading more about Bessie, here are a few articles to check-out!
Recommended Ages for this Picture Book
Reading a picture book together is always a good thing but there’s definitely better picture books suited for this age group.
Recommended (with preview)!
At this age, kids will be developing the insight to understand why Bessie decides to race the other kids and her need to win. For some kids, they may have had a similar experience already. This picture book can provide a great jumping off point for important discussions about how to treat others, overcoming barriers, and persevering through a challenge.
This picture book can serve as a jumping off point for many kinds of discussions (gender, race, social expectations). The book also introduces kids to an amazing historical figure that has come to embody so many things, from adventure to grit. Kids can explore what Bessie’s story means to them, and start looking into other articles and books to learn more about her real-world adventures.
Since this picture book is about a real person, it can serve as an intro to a deeper exploration into Bessie’s story. Additionally, this picture book could serve as a great read aloud for older kids, especially during related curriculum or themed months (Black History Month, Women’s History Month).*
*Just a reminder that we should be reading Black and celebrating women all year round!
Hope you enjoyed today’s picture book review and the articles!
Let me know in the comments if you decide to check it out or buy it!
This post was a picture book review about
“Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride” by Joel Christian Gill.