1101 Through Vancouver by scooter
Beep Beep Bubbie
by Bonnie Sherr Klein (text) and Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal
Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2020
$19.95 / 9781926890234
Reviewed by Elizabeth Bassett
Editor’s note: The West Coast Book Prize Society announced on April 8, 2021, that Beep Beep Bubbie
by Bonnie Sherr Klein (text) and Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal (Tradewind Books) has been shortlisted for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize in the 2021 BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Winners will be announced on Saturday, September 18th, 2021 — Richard Mackie
On what might not be their typical Shabbat get-together, Bubbie surprises her grandchildren with her new motorized scooter. “Beep-beep,” goes the scooter. “BEEP-BEEP,” sings Nate. His older sister Kate, however, is not so sure. Kate loves the “Bubbie she used to have.” She loves the active Bubbie who danced with her and took her on hikes in the Rockies. And she loves the activist Bubbie who took her and Nate to climate marches. How can this scooter-riding Bubbie possibly be the same?
Beep Beep Bubbie follows Bubbie, Kate, and Nate through their Saturday adventure in the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver. Despite Kate’s fears, Bubbie’s scooter does anything but slow her down. From the crowded city bus to the busy market, Bubbie fits right in — just as she always did. At the park, Bubbie is able to keep up with her active grandchildren and her energetic dog, Luna. Even more than that, Bubbie manages to impress their new friends, Catherine and Omar, along the way.
Before long, Kate’s fears start to disappear. Even with her scooter, Bubbie is the same active activist she has always been. She may be even more cool than she was before, especially after Kate and Nate give Gladys (the scooter) a vibrant new makeover.
Written by the award-winning feminist filmmaker and disability rights activist Bonnie Sherr Klein, Beep Beep Bubbie is a thoughtfully constructed picture book that does not underestimate the intelligence of its target audience. Particularly meaningful is the way the story normalizes disability by placing Bubbie and her scooter front and centre in a matter-of-fact, rather than didactic, fashion. Young readers will be delighted when they get to know the energetic, fun, and dynamic Bubbie. Alongside Kate, they will learn that Bubbie can be fully herself both with and without her scooter.
Klein’s intelligent narrative storytelling is complemented by Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal’s vibrant illustrations. The illustrations show Bubbie and the children constantly in motion: going for hikes, dancing, riding down pathways, and chasing seagulls through the crowds on Granville Island. Strikingly, the cover illustration also emphasizes Bubbie’s active nature, depicting Kate, Nate, and Luna chasing after Bubbie speeding through the park on her scooter.
Additionally, Eudes-Pascal’s illustrations show that Bubbie can still be an activist with her scooter, too. In the last image of the story, Kate, Nate, Bubbie, and Gladys are shown on their next adventure: holding up signs while marching at the Vancouver Climate Strike.
For Vancouverites and anyone else who knows the city, the picture book has extra charm as its illustrations depict numerous local scenes, from the crowded downtown buses to the popular Granville Island Public Market. Even the busker outside the market is perfectly placed!
Most importantly, Eudes-Pascal’s illustrations work with Klein’s words to normalize disability in a similar matter-of-fact manner. For example, the illustrations show that the family’s new friend Catherine has a wheelchair—and that she is just one of the children in the park with a physical disability. Like Bubbie, Catherine is just as much involved in the park activities as everyone else. Also like Bubbie, Catherine might become an activist down the road….
Thoughtfully written and illustrated, Beep Beep Bubbie is both fun and informative. Readers will be delighted to follow Bubbie through her city adventure.
Elizabeth Bassett is a librarian and archivist from Vancouver Island. She holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Victoria (2016), as well as a dual master’s degree in Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia (2021). Her research interests focus on the study of literary archives, personal archives, and children’s literature.
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