When I first read The Magic Bicycle by John Bibee in fifth grade, the whole Spirit Flyer Series instantly became one of my all time favorites. I didn’t have to be told that the Spirit Flyer bicycles were an allegory for the Holy Spirit or that the snakes represented sin and demonic powers. That was clear from the story even to a child. At the same time, the books were not preachy; they were thoroughly enjoyable adventure stories.
I recently re-read The Magic Bicycle to determine if my fourth-grade daughter is ready for the series. Here is my adult take on the book.
The lines of good and evil are very clearly drawn in this book (which I believe is a good thing). Good is represented by the Spirit Flyers and by a desire to help people (not necessarily by following the rules) and evil is represented by greed, black snakes, chains, and (basically) demons disguised as humans.
The main character, a boy named John Kramer who finds the Spirit Flier bicycle and discovers it’s magical ability to fly, is not good or evil, but he must instead make choices. His relationship with the Spirit Flier and whether or not it will work for him is governed in part by his choice to give in to anger or greed or to choose contentment and helping others.
There are very clear pictures of spiritual warfare in the “deeper world” whose dark forces John must battle to rescue his family. The Spirit Flyer bicycle is a gift from the Three Kings (the Trinity) who faced a rebellion by Treason (Satan). Now the forces of Magic (good) battle the forces of Tragic (evil) who are trying to enslave mankind. There were definitely some profound allegorical pictures throughout the book that I hope sink deeply into my children’s hearts as they read them.
As a parent, I have decided to let my fourth grader begin this series. I don’t think it will be appropriate for every child of that age. The evil is very evil (even more so in later books in the series from what I remember), and might be very frightening based on the temperament of your child. But these books are definitely worth reading when your child is mature enough to not be overly frightened. There are now eight books in the series, and I recently learned that Bibee has also written a series called the Homeschool Detectives. My daughter and I read the first book (he’s updated the kindle versions to include modern technology so today’s kids can relate), and we both thought it was a fun read.
Do you have a favorite book or series that introduces children to the reality of a “deeper world” than what we can physically see? I’d love to hear about it!