Elena Rides

Elena Rides
Age Range
Release Date
March 14, 2023
Buy This Book
Beginning readers—and beginning riders—will be drawn to this bright, buoyant story of a determined elephant and her loyal sidekick, from the award-winning creator of Juana & Lucas.

Elena wants to ride her bike. She steadies, she readies. She wobbles, she bobbles . . . KA-BANG! Learning to ride a bike is hard. But Elena can do it. She just has to try, try again. With this reassuring story of childlike persistence, Juana Medina, creator of the acclaimed Juana & Lucas series, introduces Elena, a plucky elephant, and the little red bird who is Elena’s faithful cheerleader. Simple, energetic text and bold, brilliant artwork convey a relatable tale of the ups and downs of learning something new (not without protest or tears) and the final thrill of mastery that will have children rooting for Elena and ready for her next adventure.

Editor review

1 review
Try, try, and try again!
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Elena is a young elephant who is determined to ride her bicycle without training wheels. Suitably clad in her helmet and accompanied by her friend, a small red bird, she hesitantly pedals, only to crash. She tries again, with similar results. She cries, and her friend comforts her. Not willing to give up, she gets on the bike again and again until she successfully stays upright. She enjoys her new freedom until her excessive speed causes another crash. This is enough to make her hesitant to get back on the bike, but the friendly and supportive bird tells her that she can do it. Elena dusts herself off and tries again, finally getting the hang of this new mode of transportation.
Good Points
This has a quirky color palette that is rather appealing; while Elena is purple and the background is only white and a bright, sunny yellow, there are touches of green in her helmet and red in her friend the bird. The font is a bold easy-to-process san serif one, with the "ka-punk" of the crashes in a larger, decorative font for emphasis.

This reads very much like one of the Random House Bright and Early books; think P.D. Eastman's classic Go Dog Go. If this were a HarperCollins I Can Read book, it would be a level one. The rhyming words will help beginning readers through this simple tale, and Elena's facial expressions will amuse them. Hopefully, this will inspire young bicycle riders to keep going until they, too, are successful riding with two wheels.

It took my children an inordinately long time to learn to ride a bicycle, and books like this one, along with Slater's Wild Blue, Raschka's Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle, and Bolling's Together We Ride would have been helpful in motivating them to keep at this sometimes difficult process. I especially appreciated that even after she got the hang of riding, Elena still had an accident. One of my first bicycle trips ended in a collision with a neighborhood mailbox, and I would have felt very reassured had I been able to see a book character that struggled much as I did!
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