Home
Verdict: 
Charming tale which will make a lovely Christmas present for junior cyclists and wanna-be riders.
Weight: 
220g

Betty Bikes London is a sweet tale of a girl, her Grandpa and their bikes. Published just in time for Christmas, this book would make a lovely gift or stocking filler for children aged around 5-10.

The story sees Betty and Grandpa travelling to London for a 'Ride London' style big day out on the closed city streets. The author adds in lots of cycling details (she is wearing stiff shoes, moves up through the gears) for children to spot and relate to their own experiences.

During the course of the story, Betty finds a little French dog and loses her Grandpa, but *spoiler alert* it all turns out well in the end and Betty discovers that her Grandpa once wore the yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.

The book takes Betty around London's sights, and I liked the fact that she was a visitor not a Londoner as this allowed the famous landmarks to be discovered with fresh eyes.

Pretty, slightly retro illustrations by Katie Wood complement the text. Betty wears a helmet and high vis in the pictures, but safety is referred to much more by setting her journey in a car-free London.

At the back of the book are sections for your own child to add to. One covers their cycling milestones and another is an I Spy of London landmarks. This is a really lovely touch and demonstrates the author's focus on promoting cycling for children.

Our young tester said, "It was very descriptive and made me feel that cycling is great. You just want to get on your bike and cycle away."

Our tester's dad queried the title 'Betty Bikes London' but was assured it was all above board and child-friendly.

For other Christmas present ideas for the child cyclist in your life click here.

Verdict

Charming tale which will make a lovely Christmas present for junior cyclists and wanna-be riders.

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Betty Bikes London by Jenny French and Katie Wood

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

A story about the love of cycling, travel and the pursuit of dreams.

Join Betty and her Grandpa as the pair enjoy the sights and sounds of London from the comfort of their bikes. Their adventure opens Betty's eyes to the wonder of London, to her Grandpa's past as well as potentially to her future.

Their journey takes them on a tour of London where Betty learns all about its famous landmarks, its history and its people. She also learns more about her sporty Grandpa and his epic past....

Designed for readers age 7-10 years but also for those who love being read to.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 5'7  Weight: size 16

I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD  My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Novice

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure

 

6 comments

Avatar
Bez [619 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

"Our tester's dad queried the title 'Betty Bikes London' but was assured it was all above board and child-friendly."

Now, I like to think I can turn just about anything into a filthy euphemism, but even I'm struggling there.

Avatar
Beatnik69 [425 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Bez wrote:

"Our tester's dad queried the title 'Betty Bikes London' but was assured it was all above board and child-friendly."

Now, I like to think I can turn just about anything into a filthy euphemism, but even I'm struggling there.

Try changing Betty to Debbie and London to Dallas and you might get there (ooh-err)

Avatar
LondonDynaslow [264 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I'll probably buy it but I'll tell my daughter that the yellow vest is only for silly sausages.

Avatar
velobetty [72 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

As a Betty myself, stop trying to find sleazy titles, boys!

I'm very glad she's on a bike with drops though!  4

Avatar
Sam Walker [71 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I used to work in a children's bookshop, and remember when Choose Your Own Adventure came out:

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/cover.gif)

Betty and Grandpa get separated when his old competitive instincts kick in after being passed by Jeremy Vine on a Boris Bike. Vine vanquished, Grandpa is then forced into an additional burst of speed to escape the grasp of The Bill, who rue that the Smart Hat hasn't yet made it off the drawing board, as the number plate would've made it easy to track down such scofflaws.

Flushed with victory, it takes Grandpa a minute to realise that he's left Betty behind. He races back but unfortunately the police have gotten wise and laid a puncture mat down "for his own good." Grandpa tries to explain the situation as he quickly fits his spare, but they've heard it all before. He impatiently endures a lecture and manages to sweet talk them out of a fine, but it's too late – Betty is not where he left her! Nor did she follow him into the speed trap, though other children are weeping next to their little bikes with shredded tyres in a creche of misery.

Grandpa disconsolately pushes his Colnago (an early Christmas present to himself) into the Winter Wonderland for eggnog and a chance to think, if the strangely familiar-looking busker will turn down the volume. He makes the rounds of the vendors, showing them pictures of his cherished Betty. Although he's not a religious man, he sends up a prayer that she's safe and they will soon be reunited.

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/moose.jpg)

When Grandpa raced off, Betty was thrilled! Look at him go, passing everyone, including the silly smirking man! As his backpack filled with energy gels and tea spiked with "Grandpa's little helper" (he'd let her taste it - ick) receded into the distance, Betty's tingle of pride turned into butterflies of uncertainty, then a moose of mild anxiety, threatening to roar into a penguin of panic. Grandpa, come back!

When he doesn't, she remembers what her mother taught her: Look for a grownup in a uniform. Then she spies something better - Santa himself.

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/santa1.jpg)

"I'm an old fool!" Grandpa can't help muttering, loud enough for passers-by to roll their eyes and hug their children closer. "This isn't the Tour. What got into me? Pride? It always goes before a fall." His yellow safety vest seems to mock him.

None of the vendors remember seeing his precious grandchild, but then most of them quickly lose interest when they realise he isn't buying anything. He wanders over to the Giant Observation Wheel and manages to upgrade to a VIP Pod on the spot as the ticket taker recognises him from his glorious racing days. He even lets Grandpa bring his bike into the Pod.

As the giant wheel slowly turns, Grandpa reflects on a life well lived. He has everything an old man could want: wonderful memories; a beautiful grandchild; a new Colnago, even if it is a bit let down by poor braking performance…

His pod reaches the top of the wheel's arc and pauses, as if in reflection itself, swinging in the gentle breeze like a cradle. Somewhere far below Betty wanders alone, without him. If only she was wearing something that made her stand out from the crowd.

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/helmet.jpg)

Santa offers Betty no real help, only vague tidings of good cheer. This leaves her at a crossroads, literally. If she was older she might scratch her head metaphorically. As it is she has a real itch, so she removes her colourful helmet

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/frenchdog.jpg)

just as Grandpa chances to look down at where she's standing. He's remembered that she's wearing what he called her safety hat, but as she's just taken it off, his eyes carry on their sweep of the crowd.

The giant wheel sets him down on the ground again. His gut tells him she must be here. He knows how much she loves Christmas. He spots Santa and pushes his bike over.

"Have you seen my little girl?" he asks the clearly disinterested day-jobbing actor, picture in hand. Santa waves it away and shrugs. "I've seen a lot of kids, Grandpa. They all look the same to me."

Enraged at his flippant attitude and familiar tone – only Betty is allowed to call him Grandpa – Grandpa pulls off Santa's beard and tries to stuff it down his throat. A little French dog appears from nowhere and starts biting Santa's leg. The police arrive on the scene. The chief constable recongnises Grandpa from before, shakes his head, and is in the process of cuffing him when

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/santa2.jpg)

Betty suddenly appears, still holding her helmet along with a shred of hope that Santa might come through for her after all. She's shocked to find Father Christmas gagging on his beard, shouting obscenities, and kicking a small dog, but even more shocked to see her Grandpapa. She rushes to hug him and he her, but he's wearing funny bracelets attached to each other. Even more horrifying, he looks as if he's been crying! She's never seen her grandpa cry.

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/dylan.jpg)

They are tears of joy. Even the constable is touched, and after giving Grandpa a stern look (and Grandpa apologises to Santa) he uncuffs him. It looked like the helmet was going to be an important plot element, but it wasn't.

Betty and Grandpa tearfully celebrate their reunion, the constable sighs at his own soft-heartedness, and the owner of the little dog arrives to call him off but in a spontaneous gesture of seasonal generosity gives it to Betty (the dog is a metaphor for London, even though it's French – there was nothing I could do about its nationality). Santa coughs out the last of the hair from his cheap beard and contemplates his own possibly NSFW happy ending thanks to the crumpled notes Grandpa slipped into his pocket when nobody was looking.

IMAGE(http://www.notanothercyclingforum.net/pics/bettybook/end.jpg)

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2996 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Well, that's the sequel sorted