I recently bought a children’s book. I do not have any children.
But I refuse to let that stop me when the story is this good, and the illustrations this delightful!
I’ve become enamored with the story of Bessie Stringfield, a Black woman who rode a motorcycle across the United States many times in the 1930s and 40s against incredible odds in an era when it was improper for any woman to ride a motorcycle, much less a Black woman – and solo! Obviously, Bessie was a total badass. She eventually rode more than eight times across the US, and also around the world. RAD.
Fast Enough is a beautifully illustrated children’s book telling the story of Bessie as a child riding her bike with little boys who taunted her and said she would never be fast enough to keep up.
This large-format hardback is written and illustrated by Joel Christian Gill, and it combines the story of Bessie as a girl gaining her strength, courage and self-confidence. It’s kind of two books in one, because after the children’s story, Gill tells readers more about her life as an adult, including conflicting and funny stories that she told about her background. The first half is appropriate for any aged child, fun and encouraging with a “you can do anything” theme, especially powerful for little girls. The back half is more dense and for an older crowd, with a quick summary of Bessie’s accomplishments on and off her motorcycle.
Another reason I bought this book is because I think it’s important to support Black writers telling the stories of other Black Americans, and I’m happy to buy a children’s book for my enjoyment and then to pass it along to kids that I love.
I highly recommend Fast Enough for any kid who’s interested in bicycle riding or motorcycling, or needs a confidence boost when someone’s told them that they’re not enough. The story of Bessie Stringfield should inspire us all!