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Quiet Determination: BARTALI’S BICYCLE Cover Reveal (plus a giveaway)

I’m wowed by many covers, but I’m especially jazzed about this one for Megan Hoyt’s picture book BARTALI’S BICYCLE, about an athlete who quietly saved Jewish families during the second World War.

It’s got this retro yet modern vibe, thanks to Italian illustrator Iacopo Bruno.

1938 Tour de France winner Gino Bartali was an international sports sensation! Then soldiers marched into Italy. Tanks rolled down the cobbled streets of Florence. And powerful leaders declared that Jewish people should be arrested. To the entire world, Gino Bartali was merely a champion cyclist. But his greatest achievement was something he never told a soul—that he was working with the Italian resistance to save hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children, and others, from certain death, using the one thing no authority would question: his bicycle.

Megan! Congratulations on your beautiful book!

How did you feel when you first saw the cover? 

It was beyond my wildest expectations! The colors were so rich and the expression on Gino’s face was so serious and determined. And the fact that he included the medal Gino Bartali was awarded for being “righteous among the nations” after saving so many Jewish families—you’ll find out more about that when you read the book—made it extra special to me as a Jewish author. It’s on the back cover.

I love Bartali’s expression of quiet determination in the illustration. Iacopo took the original photo and transformed it to reveal so much about what’s inside the man and the book.

What feelings do you want the cover to evoke in your readers?

Mystery! Intensity! I hope a child picking up my book for the first time will want to find out what secrets this award-winning cyclist is keeping. I hope it makes them curious! I also hope, after they read it, that Bartali’s Bicycle will inspire children growing up today in such a hostile political climate to become adults of integrity and courage and generosity. I have big dreams and high hopes for the coming generation! Kids today have been through a lot, and I hope when they read Bartali’s Bicycle they will be excited to learn what true heroism is all about.

Why is his story so special to you?

When I first heard about Gino Bartali’s success as a Tour de France winner just before World War II began, I thought, oh, that’s nice. He rides bicycles really fast. Good for him. Then when he died in 2000, suddenly people began coming forward to share their stories. He had secretly saved more than 800 Jewish Italians from certain death, and he never told anyone! When the story broke in Italy, elderly women ran out into the streets weeping. It was unbelievable. I knew I had to tell the story to American children, too. May we never forget. And during this particular time, at this moment when we are facing down racism and staring anti-semitism in the eye and saying no more, I hope our book will boost those efforts. I know in time we humans will learn the hard lessons we need to learn. And Gino Bartali’s story will, I hope, help us get there just a wee bit sooner!

I understand you went to Italy and had a chance to meet with the illustrator Iacopo Bruno!

Yes! When I scored a $300 flight to Italy, I asked if he wanted to meet since he lives in Milan. Just name the place, I said. And he chose (of course) a bicycle cafe! There were bicycles hanging all over the restaurant, and they sold racing gear, too. It was the perfect spot! Thank goodness he brought his wife Francesca because he does not speak a lot of English, and I don’t speak much Italian. We went to his studio after lunch and I got to see sketches from his latest work in progress and final sketches of our beautiful book! And he gave me a gift! I didn’t think to get him a gift. Is that an Italian thing or is he just the nicest illustrator ever? And so talented—he created art for the book that makes you feel like you fell into a 1940s movie or something. It’s so retro and cool!

Amazing! So few authors have the opportunity to meet our illustrators in person. What a thrill!

And blog readers will also have a thrill…because Megan is giving away an F&G of BARTALI’S BICYCLE before it’s released on February 23, 2021 from HarperCollins/Quill Tree.

Leave a comment below to enter.

A random winner will be chosen in October.

Good luck!

 

Source: Writing Competition

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