It’s a Special Day with Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade


Today was a special day. I woke up with a pep in my yoga practice, which was centered around feeling free. I followed that practice with my bus ride to the fabulous elementary school I serve at and, as I marveled at how many more trees there are here in Portland than in NYC, I decided it was time to simultaneously regress and progress with a new read: Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade, the first-ever cli-fi (climate change fiction) book for kids!

But let me backtrack. 

Since the seventh grade, my dear friend Antonia (though she, like Josie, shortened her name to Toni when she was the protagonist’s age) has been the most avid biker I know…and one of the best writers. I actually owe so much of my love of writing to her, as she is the one who drew me to Girls Write Now. Often, Antonia would bike from Brooklyn to the Midtown Manhattan offices of our writing workshop. Once we went to separate high schools, I never saw Antonia without her bike. She is a Brooklynite who wears her geographic identity in how she skillfully uses her handlebars. When we were in college, I visited her in Oakland (the Brooklyn of the Bay). She biked to where I walked and, sitting on the outskirts of Lake Merritt, she told me about her internships with environmental organizations and how she wanted to pursue climate-improvement work as a career.


Fast forward two years and Antonia Bruno and her parents have published a book that makes my heart sing with the sheer joy that a generation of readers can truly believe that they can make an impact in the world and change the environment for the better. Josie is Ramona with sass, joie d’vivre and a fierce desire to save the world one bike ride to school at a time. She is a fourth-grade community organizer who spends summers in Ecuador and school years in Brooklyn (who says we don’t write our own stories first?). Her “weakness” is uncontrollable laughter (which in my book is a quirky blessing) and her strengths are too many to count. 


Reading this first book in the series Josie Goes Green on my way to a bilingual school (did I mention that Josie is bilingual and the specks of understandable Spanish in the book convey that?) made me wish that Josie could be a role model for the kids that made my heart swell as I saw them walking/skipping/running down the hallways. Kids with their whole lives ahead of them and a limitless capacity for making change in their generation. Words cannot describe how proud I am of my friend, a writing partner of mine and AUTHOR of this insanely cool new series. 

This review (if you can call it that) but skims the surface of all there is to know about Josie and her group of friends. Find out more:

P.S. I am writing this after returning from an 8-mile bike ride around Portland on a bike I just bought today, using the residue of yesterday’s Super Moon as my guiding light home. I like to think that Josie had more than a little to do with that. 😉

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