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Utah 'authorstrator' publishes new wordless picture book

THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE,” by Mark Pett, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $15.99 (all ages)

Mark Pett’s pencil and watercolor spreads tell the story — and the story within the story — in "The Girl and the Bicycle." In this wordless picture book, a button-nosed girl tugs her brother along, causing him to lose his ice cream cone on the sidewalk, as she longs for the bicycle in a toy store window.

Without adequate funds to buy the bicycle, she sets up a lemonade stand, sells old toys and helps an older woman with chores. By spring, the girl has enough money. She plans her purchase, only to find the bicycle gone. She instead buys a tricycle just the right size for a little brother. In the satisfying conclusion, the girl’s disappointment is met with a surprise from the elderly lady.

Pett achieves literary finesse and unfolds the story with wordless charm; women lug their shopping bags and a village setting comes alive. Space is used to advantage as the girl tugs a rake much larger than herself, climbs under a big couch cushion and searches the clothes dryer for errant coins.

Smaller sequenced pictures indicate the passage of time. Mood is suggested through simple tilts of heads and body gestures. The simple, singular illustrations result in a total successful story.

By not using words to perpetuate the idea of the girl’s virtue and generosity, which could have left a maudlin lesson smacking of sentimentality, Pett allows readers to make their own story with their own values. Details missed the first time through will add to the joy of rereadings.

Utah author and illustrator Pett has lived in Philadelphia, Prague, Cambridge and the Mississippi Delta. In addition to illustrating several books, Pett is the “authorstrator” of “The Boy and the Airplane” and “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.” He is also the creator of the syndicated comic strips “Mr. Lowe” and “Lucky Cow.”

If you go ...

What: Mark Pett book signing

When: Tuesday, April 29, 6:30 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City


Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.