Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 19, 2022

Book Giveaway: TOGETHER WE RIDE by Valerie Bolling

Valerie Bolling has a new picture book, TOGETHER WE RIDE, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita and published by Chronicle Books. It hits bookstores on April 26th. Sleeping Bear Press has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Valerie and Kayla.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments By Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


Hair Love meets bike rides in this loving portrait of a father-daughter relationship.

Learning to ride is no easy feat! But with a little courage, a guiding hand from her dad, and an enthusiastic bark from her pup, one brave girl quickly learns the freedom that comes from an afternoon spent outside on a bike.

Experience the fear, the anticipation, and the delight of achieving the ultimate milestone in this energetic, warm story that celebrates the precious bond between parent and child.

THE JOY OF LEARNING TO RIDE A BIKE: Who can forget the first time they learned to ride a bike? This book is a nostalgic nod for parents and one they will be eager to share with their young one learning how to ride.

A GREAT READ ALOUD: This lyrical, upbeat text is a great fit for story-time in any household.

PERFECT GIFT FOR DAD: If you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift or a birthday gift for dad, look no further! He will love the child/parent relationship portrayed in these pages!

Perfect for:

• Anyone looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift
• Anyone approaching the big milestone of bike riding
• Grandparents
• Parents
• Teachers and educators
• Librarians


TOGETHER WE RIDE (illustrated by Kaylani Juanita), was inspired by all the children I saw riding bikes when taking my daily “mental health walks” with my husband during the COVID shutdown of spring 2020. In particular, there was a five-year-old girl who had just learned how to ride a bike. When I commented about how much her bike riding skills had progressed over the weeks, her mother told me that all of the time they were spending at home provided the opportunity for her to learn. Learning to ride a bike – without training wheels – is such an exciting milestone for children that I decided to write a story about that experience.

In my story, I knew I wanted a parent supporting and cheering on a child during this experience. I knew there would be a failed attempt and eventual success. Finally, I knew that I wanted not only to spotlight the love and connection between a child and an adult but also an entire family.

I set a challenge for myself with TOGETHER WE RIDE – to write a book that had fewer words than LET’S DANCE! and to use the same end rhyme throughout the text. I met both challenges. TOGETHER WE RIDE has only 30 words, half the amount of LET’S DANCE!, and all of the words (except one) rhyme with “ride.”

What’s interesting about how this book came to be is that during “The Call” with my agent, James McGowan, he asked what else I was working on. I casually shared my Zoom screen to show him what was then titled BIKE RIDE. He liked it so much that he asked me to send it to him. Even though he had chosen to represent me based on three other manuscripts, this is the one he went out on submission with first. When I later asked him why, he said, “Because there wasn’t anything that needed to be changed.”

James’ assessment was correct because the book went to auction, and I received a two-book deal. (The sequel, TOGETHER WE SWIM, which hadn’t been written at the time of acquisition, will be released next year.) The acquiring editor, Elizabeth Lazowski of Chronicle, agreed with James – she had no plans to change any of the text. When she saw the words paired with the illustrations, however, she suggested that one word be deleted. I agreed and even offered to remove additional text that I felt wasn’t needed. I’m a writer who’s willing to “kill darlings” for the greater good of the story.

What particularly excites me about TOGETHER WE RIDE is that it celebrates an important milestone in a child’s life and exudes such joy. It also reminds us of the importance of an adult’s love and support in propelling a child towards success. The father cannot ride his daughter’s bike for her. She must do it on her own, and it is that agency that makes her victorious and exhilarated when she achieves her goal. Brava to the girl, and bravo to her father!


Valerie Bolling is a picture book author. Her first book was Let’s Dance! and published by Boyds Mills & Kane. She has been an educator for almost 30 years and a writer since age 4. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College and currently works as an Instructional Coach.

Her nieces inspired her to write picture books, and she wants children of all backgrounds to see themselves in her stories and feel valued and heard. Let’s Dance! is her debut book, and it is a winner of SCBWI’s Crystal Kite award. Valerie has two picture books releasing in 2022 and two more picture books and an early reader series slated for 2023.

In addition to writing picture books, I have written a Monthly Memo for teachers that I published on Twitter, and I have been published in The National Writing Project’s Quarterly and NESCBWI News. A poem I wrote was published in Cricket Media’s Babybug Magazine.

Valerie Bolling is represented by agent James McGowan of BookEnds Literary Agency. She lives with her husband in Connecticut and enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater … and dancing.


Kaylani is an illustrator based in Fairfield, CA who illustrates inclusive picture books, editorial art, and afros. Some of her clients include Chronicle Books, Cicada Magazine, and DEFY.

Her work has been recognized by Society of Illustrators, The Huffington Post, as well as BBC. California grown and raised, she’s studied at Cal Arts and CCA for a BFA in Illustration. Her mission as an artist is to support the stories of the under represented and create new ways for people to imagine themselves. You can find her lurking in public secretly drawing strangers or writing nonsensical stories about who knows what.

Valerie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It reminds me of when my father teaching me how to ride my bike – a very cherished memory of mine. Nice book for children and a loving reminder to Dad’s reading this book to their child. Your text and Kayla’s illustrations have created a great book for Father’s Day. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a lovely post to start the day. Thank you for sharing Valerie’s book journey with us.


  2. What a beautiful story. I love the rhyme and sparse text. I especially love that it’s about a father and daughter. Wonderful! Congrats!


  3. Congrats, Valerie and Kayla! (I’m signed up for the daily emails, too.)


  4. Subscriber here and Valerie Bolling fan ( also tweeted this). I have a grandson who learned during the pandemic, too. Can’t wait to get him this book. I’m excited to learn about the next book Together We Swim, too. Sounds like a great pairing for Brave in the Water.


  5. I absolutely love LET’S DANCE, and I can’t wait to read this one too. I will be giving it to my son and granddaughter as they are in this phase right now! Subscriber and sharing on Twitter.


  6. Reblogged this on Teresa Robeson 何顥思 and commented:
    Hop on over to Kathy Temean’s blog for a chance to win Valerie Bolling’s lovely new picture book!


  7. I love everything Valerie does! She is so generous with her time and always helping other writers! She is a gem! This books looks fabulous! Love her writing and great job on the two book deal! Fantastic illustrations by KayLani!

    Great article! I’m signed up so I won’t miss out!


  8. Congratulations Valerie! What a great idea for a book. I also enjoy walks and along them have seen little ones with their parents working together to succeed at solo bike riding. It makes me smile every time. I’ll share on FB, and twitter.


  9. I think we all have similar memories about a childhood accomplishment. Mine is about learning to swim. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Together We Ride.
    I’ve shared:, and tweeted:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, Happy Tuesday!!


  10. I really admire writers who can tell a complete story in just a few words. This looks like a great book. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  11. I loved this author’s first book and can’t wait to read this, especially with it’s economy of words. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  12. This is a wonderful book for so many reasons – the topic, text, and illustrations make this a book that is sure to be a classic.


  13. Awww, This looks like a sweet book. I will check it out. Thanks for the post. I subscribe to your blog by email.


  14. This book is adorable! Love the spare text of fellow rhymer Valerie Bolling! Readers will bounce through the ups and downs of learning to bike ride, picking up speed and joy as they go along. Congrats, Valerie and Kaylani!


  15. Valerie, so adorable! Like so many others have said, it takes me right back to when I learned to ride without training wheels! Perfect! Congratulations!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy.


  16. How wonderful does this look!!! We enjoyed her first book!


  17. Valerie, glad you are taking a daily mental health walk. This is a terrific book and I look forward to reading. I will post on FB and Twitter.


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