Wilberforce’s storyline is uncomplicated and manageable for younger readers, and he avoids character development in favor of immediate adventure: Barry, along with Kari and Fast Tommy, have minimal introduction before Barry’s love for roller skating surges the story along, and the movement keeps going as the main players all prep for Fast Tommy’s skate race. Wilberforce’s digital illustrations are engaging and dynamic in their composition, a montage of sorts, but when it’s a close up of Barry or a portrayal of his anger, his expression is terrifying, which may be off-putting to some younger readers.
A highlight is the emphasis on the rewards of friendship, practicing, and not giving up, alongside Wilberforce’s brief reference to social bullying–when Barry falls on his skates, his friends’ teasing makes him feel “very small.” Discerning readers may also notice Kari in the background of illustrations asleep in a hammock, perhaps a cheeky nod to the tortoise and the hare fable, which this story echoes and shares a moral with–Kari is a rabbit after all. VROOM! is a straightforward and uplifting book for young readers who need a bit of encouragement to keep trying and to have friends who will support their goals.
Takeaway: Barry’s story will encourage younger readers with a push to keep trying and surround themselves with supportive friends.
Great for fans of: Diane Alber’s A Little Spot of Perseverance, Carmen Agra Deedy’s The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-
What to Expect: Friendship, growth mindset, positive thinking.
Barry is a very big bear, but when his friends laugh at him because he can’t roller-skate, Barry doesn’t feel big at all—he feels very small indeed. He’s so embarrassed that he’s sure he can never be fast enough to race with the others. Then, he meets Fast Tommy, who teaches him that hard work and perseverance are just as important as talent. More importantly, Tommy helps him see that the journey is as important as the destination. With Tommy’s help, Barry doesn’t just learn how to skate fast—he learns how to love learning to skate!
There’s no doubt that it can be hard to try new things. For many children, the fear of failure is so great that the effort of learning something new just doesn’t seem worth it. VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost! uses familiar situations and relatable characters to help readers overcome these fears and develop a growth mindset—the knowledge that you can become better at anything if you are willing to practice and take your time. Cartoon-like illustrations add gentle humor, reminding readers that there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes along the way.
VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost! is an uplifting story with a powerful message about working hard, learning, and trying your best.
A bear learns to skate and defeats a bully in a race in author/illustrator Wilberforce’s debut picture book.
When rollerblading rabbit Kari says that Barry is too big to skate fast, the brown bear is determined to prove her wrong. But when he attempts, Barry falls and feels humiliated as other animals laugh. Kari tells Barry that he’s too slow to race her. Barry feels dejected, and a skilled skater monkey named Fast Tommy offers to help him train. With Tommy’s advice and encouragement, Barry gains confidence. His skating improves, and he masters a challenging move called the “Power Boost,” in which he picks up speed by dipping and then soaring high. He later wins the race by using the move. Barry is elated, and Tommy is proud of his pupil. Readers will root for the affable protagonist’s success as he faces ups and downs in his skating and overcomes doubts. Tommy’s instructions, which emphasize focusing on learning instead of on the unknown outcome, may be helpful to children with their own athletic goals. The full-color, cartoonish illustrations include comic book–like details, such as puffs of dust indicating fast movement and panels showing Barry’s skating progress. Some words, like “SMACK!!” are emphasized in capital letters that make for easy reading.
An affirmative anthropomorphic story emphasizing perseverance and practice.
Dear child, what is that goal you’ve been aiming at? It could be being good at skating, drawing, sports, science, mathematics, etc. Every time you attempt it and fail, your friends laugh at you. You feel ridiculed and demeaned. If you don’t keep trying, you’ll never be good at it. A saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Work hard at it, and you’ll ultimately achieve your goal, no matter the timing.
Barry always admired Kari’s speed. She could run so fast and leave a cloud of dust behind her. Barry always wondered if he could be as good as Kari. One time, he put on some skates and tried running. Unfortunately, he fell with a thud! Everyone watching roared with laughter.
Embarrassed, Barry woke up and decided never to try again. Luck was on his side because Fast Tommy was observing him. Fast Tommy approached him and offered to support him with the skating. Barry was more than eager to embark on his training. The first few days of training proved to be problematic. Barry nearly gave up, but Fast Tommy encouraged him to keep going! A race is approaching in two weeks, and Barry is determined tooth and nail to succeed. Will he?
I enjoyed how Fast Tommy was there for Barry when he was on the verge of giving up. Fast Tommy represents the friends we need to keep close. They’re the buddies that are with us through thick and thin. Barry was determined to win, and his friends’ mockery fueled his motivation. In the back of his mind, he wanted to prove them wrong.
The pictures of Kari, Barry, Fast Tommy, and the rest were lively. The racing day was even more intriguing to see. I award the book 4 out of 4 stars because I found nothing to despise. Further, I detected zero grammatical flaws. Thus, it is professionally edited. I recommend VROOM! Barry, Kari and the Power Boost! by William G Wilberforce III to kids between 4 to 8 years old.
Loved it! 😍
The most important part of "VROOM! Barry, Kari and the Power Boost," Barry picked himself back up and kept trying.
It's never a fun experience getting laughed at when you try your best. Poor Barry, the bear, was embarrassed when all the other animals laughed when he fell trying to maneuver in rollerblades for the first time.
Barry, feeling down, met a speedy skater, who told him to practice. Through his pep talk with Fast Tommy, the monkey, Barry learned a valuable lesson, "The more I practice the better I'll be." Also, it's not about winning or losing; it's about trying. Both of these points are excellent lessons to teach our youngsters.
So Barry tried, and tried, and kept trying. When he fell, he expressed anger, a typical reaction that kids can relate to, but that's okay. The most important part of VROOM! Barry, Kari and the Power Boost, Barry picked himself back up and kept trying.
After you finish VROOM! Barry, Kari and the Power Boost by William Wilberforce, discuss with your child or class if there was ever a time someone laughed at them for failing and how they handled it. Or, what have they practiced at really hard?
I believe VROOM! Barry, Kari and the Power Boost would suit three-year-olds and older. Toddlers might not understand the overall message, but you could discuss the animal names and what's happening on the pages.