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Reviewed by Melinda Facal for Readers' Favorite
The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans, illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz, takes the reader on a fast-paced and exhilarating bike ride while capturing the happy and resilient nature of children. This children’s book can be read in two ways; with everyone in the story wearing a face mask as during the Covid-19 crisis, and a second version for when the crisis is resolved, without face masks being worn. No special emphasis is placed on the fact that everyone is wearing a mask, which will help to normalize this situation for children. In the story, a father takes his daughter and a few of her friends on a bike ride through their neighborhood. Along the way, the children encounter a few ups and downs, but they always rally and help one another.
The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans is an enjoyable and important story for the times we are living in. The children in this story are focused on the joy of being outside riding their bikes, even if a mask must be worn. Warm and colorful illustrations throughout the book add to the upbeat tone of this story. The delight and freedom the children express while on a simple bike ride send a positive and encouraging message to children that there are good times to be had and that we will all get through this difficult time together. As people all over the world try to safely re-engage in activities, this book shows children enjoying themselves and making the best of a challenging situation.