The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Christine Uss’s website:

Activities & Resources:



List of famous bicyclists:

Interesting facts about bicycles:

Printable bike craft:


Learn about Monasteries:


Learn about ghosts:


History of cookies:

Cookie fun facts:

Kentucky Derby:

Kentucky Derby fun facts and trivia:

Click to access FunFacts-TriviaSheet-May2018-V2.pdf

French Food:

Learn about French food:

Try out some French food recipes:


Learn about different kinds of pies:

MakerSpace Activities:

Using books, maps and online resources, create a cross-country biking trip you would want to go on. Just like Bicycle in the book, create a map with your route marked on it and all the stops you might like to make along the way. Calculate your miles and figure out how long this trip might take and how many miles you would need to bike a day. Create a supply list for what you would take with you.

Create a recipe collection with all of the different kinds of fried pies you would want to make. Add your collection to a binder and decorate to make your very own pie cookbook. You could also do this with cookies or French food!

Try out some of the recipes you put into your cookbook and share the results with your family and friends.

Bicyclist often ride in teams like we saw with “Spim’s Splendid Sponges” and “King Tutter’s Butter Popcorn.” Create your own team name and design your teams bicycling outfits and bike decorations.

Discussion Questions:

The Mostly Silent Monks only speak the “Sacred Eight Words” which include the words: yes, no, maybe, help, now, later, sleep, and sandwich. How well do you think you could communicated with only eight words? Which words would you choose as your eight? How long do you think you could last before slipping in some other words?

Sister Wanda is worried about Bicycle not being able to make any friends her own age and continues to try and set Bicycle up with new friends. Describe a time where you made a new friends. Was it difficult? How did you go about it?

Mr. Spim gives Bicycle three pieces of advice when he meets her at the beginning of her journey. What three pieces of advice would you give Bicycle?

On the third day of Bicycle’s journey, she stops at a convenience store and gets a candy bar that she describes as “best breakfast she’d ever have.” What was the last thing you ate that you would describe as the best meal ever? Describe the dish and the moment you were eating it.

Bicycle and Griffin find themself on a stretch of land covered with dozens of unmatched sneakers. Create a story describing how the sneakers got there.

At the Kentucky Derby the announcer calls out the racehorse’s unusual names. These include names like Mellow Johnny, Big Mig, AlwaysComesInThird, and Froomey. What would you name your racehorse and why?

When Bicycle and Griffin reach his home town of Green Marsh, Griffin is so excited to see the things he remembers from growing up there. If you left your hometown for an extended period of time, what would you be excited to see when you came back? What shops or restaurants would you want to visit? What landmarks would you recognize right away?

Having had Clunk trampled by pigs and Griffin gone silent, Bicycle fears that she has failed in her mission to bring Griffin home. How do you get back up after failure? What would you tell Bicycle? Describe a time where you picked yourself back up after a defeat.

Jeremiah Branch and Estrella Marquez have a decades long feud between them. Have you ever held a grudge against someone or have had a grudge held against you? Did you ever work it out between the other person?  Describe what happened.

Jeremiah and Bicycle want to come up with a new and exciting pie flavor combination that will make his pie shop world famous. They try a lot of odd combinations. Come up with several strange but potentially delicious pie flavor combinations you would want to try. Why do you think these flavors will work together?

After finding out Clunk can never be ridden again ,Bicycle is devastated. What do you predict will happen next? Will she be able to finish her journey? How will she keep going? In a few sentences, describe what you would do in her shoes?

Bicycle has a stroke of luck when she stumbles upon a bicycle for auction and wins. She discovered that the original owner built the bike to study the properties of Luck. Do you believe in luck? Why or why not? In a few sentences, describe a time you felt you benefited from good luck or experienced bad luck.

Bicycle discovered her new bike has many useful features like a tent, food pellets, and a large library of music. What features would you want your bike to have? Think up a few and describe how you would make it work.

Bicycle is being followed by the Lady in Black she first saw at the auction where she won her new bike. Why do you think the Lady in Black is following Bicycle? What do you think The lady in Black wants?

Bicycle meets three mountain bikers who agree to help her stop the Lady in Black. What do you think their plan will be? Describe how you would stop the Lady in Black.

After meeting Dr. Alvarado and going back to his house, Bicycle gets to take a look at his workshop and finds many new and exciting inventions. What would you like to create an invention to do? Describe how it would work.

The Lady in Black catches up to Bicycle, Sister Wanda, and Dr. Alvarado, but Bicycle is sent away before they can confront each other. What do you think happened after Bicycle left in the taxi? Describe how you think the meeting happened.

Bicycle watches as a group of “Girl Explorers” arrive in a motor home while she is stopped at a campsite. The girls who step out of the motor home seem disgusted at the idea of actually spending time in nature and would rather spend their time watching a movie and microwaving s’mores. What essentials would you pack for a camping trip? Make a list and explain why you would bring the items on it.

Bicycle finally meets Zbig and is upset when he gives her another autograph and denies her offer of friendship. In a few sentences, describe what you think Bicycle’s next move should be.

Sister Wanda, Zbig, Bicycle, and all of their friends are off on another adventure to travel back across the United States. How do you think their journey will go? What do you think they will see? Will Bicycle and Zbig become friends? Continue creating the story for yourself.

Book Talk Teasers:

Show the book trailer for The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle. After viewing, ask for predictions for what will happen in the story.

Have students map out a bicycle route across the country to a destination they have always wanted to see. Have them discuss the obstacles they might face along the way. Encourage them to read the book and find out how Bicycle made it across the country by herself.

Read Alikes:


Moser, Fiadhnait. The flourishing of Floralie Laurel. In 1927, flower seller Floralie, eleven, and a new, mute friend, Nino, follow clues left by her long-lost mother from England to the garden of Claude Monet in France. (NoveList Plus)

Young, Moira. The road to ever after. Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog named George turns Davy’s life upside down just days before Christmas, Davy sets in motion a chain of events that forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. (NoveList Plus)

Magical Realism

Birney, Betty G. Seven wonders of Sassafras Springs. Living in his boring town, Eben McAllister begrudgingly accepts his father’s challenge to locate the Seven Wonders in Sassafras in order to win the prize of a family trip to Colorado and, in the process, discovers the magic that lies within his community that he had never taken notice of before. (NoveList Plus)

Davies, Stephen. Hilda and the hidden people. Join our beloved heroine as she encounters her very first troll, negotiates peace with some very persnickety elves, and reunites two lovelorn ancient giants. Fantastic creatures and daring adventures are all just part of another average day for Hilda, but what will she do if she is forced to move to Trolberg city, far away from her beloved valley home? (NoveList Plus)

Eagar, Lindsay. Hour of the bees. At first, twelve-year-old Carol is not happy to be spending the summer helping her parents move her grandfather to an assisted living home, but as the summer wears on, she finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by his amazing stories. (NoveList Plus)

Self Discovery

Jette, Sarah Marie. What the wind can tell you. When Isabelle enters the magical world of Las Brisas with her wheelchair-bound brother, her eyes are opened to a future of new possibilities. (NoveList Plus)

Loftin, Nikki. Wish girl. Twelve-year-old Peter has never felt at home with his noisy family, but begins to find the strength to live and to be himself when he discovers a special valley in the Texas Hill Country and meets Annie, a girl dying of cancer who knows and accepts him from the start. (NoveList Plus)

McGhee, Alison. Pablo & Birdy. Pablo, nearly ten, has many questions about his origins and how he arrived at Isla as a baby, but finding the answers may mean losing his lifetime companion, Birdy the parrot. (NoveList Plus)

Road Trips

Cheng, Jack. See you in the cosmos. Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski is determined to launch his golden iPod into space, just like his hero Carl Sagan launched the Golden Record into space ages and ages ago. Instead, Alex and his dog, aptly named Carl Sagan, wind up on a road trip with some unexpected (and awesome) traveling companions and more than one eye-opening detour. (NoveList Plus)

Gemeinhart, Dan. The remarkable journey of Coyote Sunrise. Twelve-year-old Coyote and her father rush to Poplin Springs, Washington, in their old school bus save a memory box buried in a park that will soon be demolished. (NoveList Plus)


Uss, Christina.  The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle. Margaret Ferguson Books, an imprint of Holiday House, 2018

Horn Book                                                   

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

by Christina Uss

Intermediate, Middle School Ferguson/Holiday 307 pp.

6/18 978-0-8234-4007-8 $16.99

ebook ed. 978-0-8234-4108-2

This unusual road-trip novel features a twelve-year-old girl, called Bicycle, who cycles solo from Washington, DC, to San Francisco. Bicycle is a foundling, raised in a monastery by a retired nun; she’s a loner and a cycling prodigy. Appalled by the prospect of summer camp (too many noisy children), she runs away (on her bike, named Clunk), heading to the “Blessing of the Bicycles” in California. The odyssey is a bit of a travelogue, but mainly the story’s tone is cartoonish, with absurd adults, silly villains, broad satire, coincidences galore, and an embedded shaggy-dog story (the punch line is in Polish). A couple of magic characters, a Civil War ghost, and a bicycle with A.I. capabilities join Bicycle for part of her journey and provide background information and practical assistance, keeping the journey plausible. Just. The story is overcrowded, but beneath the hullaballoo is a heartfelt celebration of the zen of cycling and a sympathetic portrait of an atypical kid who struggles to learn the art of friendship. SARAH ELLIS

Reprinted from the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine with permission from The Horn Book, Inc.,


The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle.

Uss, Christina (author).

June 2018. 320p. Holiday/Margaret Ferguson, hardcover, $16.99 (9780823440078). Grades 3-6.

REVIEW. First published May 1, 2018 (Booklist).                                                  

Uss uses her cross-country cycling experience as an inspiration for her pleasantly peculiar debut novel. Bicycle is perfectly content with her quiet, often solitary life at the Mostly Silent Monastery, where the monks only say eight words. But when her guardian Sister Wanda worries that Bicycle’s life is too solitary, and sends her to the Friendship Factory summer camp, Bicycle escapes on her beloved bike, traveling from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. Along the way, Bicycle befriends many colorful characters, including a Civil War ghost, a fried-pie entrepreneur, and the inventor of a sentient bike. Uss fills Bicycle’s journey west with authentic descriptions of American landmarks, deserts, sunflower fields, and mountains, which makes even the most fantastical elements of the story feel real. The humor and warmth of the strangers Bicycle meets along the way makes the long journey coast along at a quick pace. Readers who enjoy action and adventure with a dose of magic will happily go along for the ride. — Mariko Turk

Used with the permission of Booklist

School Library Journal (April 1, 2018) 

Gr 4-6-When she was just a young girl, Bicycle was found by Sister Wanda, a retired “Nearly Silent Nun,” at the doors of the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. Oddly, the only word the nuns and monks may use to communicate is sandwich. Now 12, Bicycle is a magnificent rider, hence her name. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to connect with other children and has no interest in making friends. Sister Wanda signs her up for a sleepaway camp called the Friendship Factory. Bicycle, however, has other plans. Deceiving Sister Wanda, she sets out on a cross-country ride to San Francisco, imagining she will meet and befriend bicycle-riding sensation, Zbig. Drawing on the author’s own bicycle trip in 1996, Uss’s debut novel uses a simple narrative that mixes realistic fiction with supernatural and farfetched fantastical elements. The well-organized chapters use a comfortable-sized font and a fluent storyline that moves the plot ahead. VERDICT Middle grade fans of realistic coming-of-age tales, especially those interested in cycling, will appreciate this unusual work of sports fiction.-Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley Public Library, CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.                      Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2018