Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Magic Bicycle: The Story of a Bicycle That Found a Boy

In John Bibee's unique story, young John Kramer happens upon an old, red, Spirit Flyer bicycle with unusual powers. The Magic Bicycle is the first of eight books in the Spirit Flyer series. At first, John realizes the bike can jump farther and higher than most bikes. Soon, he is flying through the air, on various adventures. However, the bike seems to have a mind of its own, and will not fly if John is angry or intends to harm someone. It seems the bike may hold a clue to the mysterious death of John's parents, as well.

As John rides the bike more, he begins to encounter sinister cobras, with red eyes and dripping fangs. Sometimes, the cobras appear in skid marks, or funnel clouds. They always are a sign of evil, regardless of where John encounters them. The cobras seem to be connected to Barry Smedlow, the leader of a school gang intent on harassing John. The cobras are also connected to the Goliath Toy Corporation. Goliath's owner (Horace Grinsby) attempts to buy the Spirit Flyer from John. When John refuses, Grinsby enlists Barry in a sinister plot and ruins the annual bicycle contest.

Finally, with the help of his grandfather, John learns the true nature of the bicycle. It is actually an instrument of the three kings, designed to bring the rider closer to the King Prince and Kingson. John also learns more clues about his parents' disappearance. Before he can process this information, he must use the bicycle to rescue his aunt, uncle and cousins. He flies into the center of a cobra cloud, and rescues them from chains holding them powerless.

What I Like: I like the allegorical nature of the story. The bicycle is analogous to the Holy Spirit. It is sensitive to John's motivations and desires, and works best when he is doing what is right. Although John can make his own choices, the bicycle becomes sluggish and eventually refuses to move, if John is doing something he knows he shouldn't. The book would also work well to explain the biblical concept of "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly high places."

I also like the sense of adventure in the story. John's town deals with strange tornadoes, unusual rainstorms, and even lightning fires. The bicycle's actions are unpredictable, and keep readers on their toes.

What I Dislike: Bibee tells too much, instead of showing readers, and letting them figure things out on their own.

Also, I bought the book for my son, but it got scarier, the more we read. The cobras and funnel clouds were creepy, and there were "daimones" that appeared dead, but were wearing masks belonging to the characters. Every person has at least one daimone assigned to him or her, whose purpose is to corrupt them, and keep them in chains.

The book ends on a cliff-hanger, with John having disappeared. This was frustrating, since it seems the evil chains were already starting to influence the family again, and we still don't know what really happened to John's parents.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: Publisher lists 8-12, but I would say a bit older, due to scary images and themes.

Publisher Info: InterVarsity Press, 1983; ISBN: 978-0-87784-348-1; Paperback, 197 pages, $12.00

Buy it Now at for $9.49.

OR Buy it at for $10.20

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1 comment:

Kristen said...

Fyi: This book is the first in a series! And, they are out of print so hopefully Amazon will have them all.
The set was just loaned to us by a friend, but we haven't started it yet.