Samantha's Blue Bicycle

Published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp or Sarah Masters Buckey; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Troy Howell, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia have come for a visit, the first since the wedding. They've brought Samantha a present from their honeymoon in England: a bicycle! Samantha's excited to try it, and excited to impress Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia. Grandmary has misgivings, but allows Samantha to try it. At first, Samantha has a wonderful time, but when she goes cycling in the park her skirt gets caught in the chain and she crashes. It's a big enough crash that Samantha is glad to see the front tire is flat so she can pretend to be braver about trying the bike again than she really is.

Some time goes by, and the bicycle sits unused, even after Hawkins fixes it. Then Uncle Gard calls to announce that he and Aunt Cornelia will be visiting soon with Agnes and Agatha, to ride bikes with Samantha. Samantha tries to get used to her bike, but even in the driveway she falls. Grandmary sees Samantha struggling, and acknowledges that while she herself wouldn't have picked a bike for Samantha, she can see that Samantha is trying very hard to learn it, and believes she can help Samantha enjoy it again.

And what does Grandmary suggest? Unladylike bloomers! Aunt Cornelia is especially surprised, but Grandmary reminds Aunt Cornelia of what she told Grandmary earlier: "A lady is a lady no matter what she wears." Now unencumbered and full of confidence, Samantha's ready to zip around the park with her family.

Looking Back

Cycling had been steadily gaining popularity in the late 1800s, and by Samantha's time they were fairly common-place. Bicycles allowed women more freedom to get places, as they were more acceptable for women to ride than horses, and easier too. They also started to influence fashion, acting as a catalyst for trousers to come into style for women, and corsets to go out of style.


My short story collection book is inscribed in the front with "Elysa #21 Mrs. Able."

Samantha mentions having chicken pox. I wonder if the author threw that in thinking it would be familiar to kids. While this collection of short stories was put together and published as a set in 2006, I know I read it in the American Girl magazine in the early 90s. That's when the chicken pox vaccine was gaining ground. So much for kids having experience with it!

Samantha's house has a driveway, according to the text.

Laura Ingalls Wilder would have been growing up when bicycles were becoming popular (she was born in 1867), but she never refers to them in her books. While it seems she would have enjoyed a bike, they were probably hard to come by on the frontier.

I wonder why Cornelia's younger sisters' names all begin with "A" and hers doesn't. (Agnes, Agatha, Alice)


Anonymous said...

I wondered if Cornelia's sisters would be from a second marriage since their so much younger then she is and all start with As.

SJSiff said...

Maybe. The twins are 9, and Alice is only 2.

I do know a family that has one kids who's 18, then a long gap before the nine-year-old, the seven-year-old, and the four-year-old; same marriage.