Bessie the Motorcycle Queen

Charles R. Jr. Smith and Charlot Kristensen


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SKU: 9781338752472
Bessie the Motorcycle Queen by Smith, Charles R., Jr.
Regular price $18.99
Regular price Sale price $18.99

Hop on the bike with Bessie Stringfield, the motorcycle queen of Miami, in this powerful picture book from Coretta Scott King medalist Charles R. Smith, Jr. and debut picture book illustrator Charlot Kristensen.

The folks they lined up to meet the Motorcycle Queen, seated sidesaddle on her motorbike machine.

In 1929, 18-year-old Bessie Stringfield hopped on her motorcycle and headed out on an adventure, an unusual choice for a young Black woman at the time. Paying her way by winning motorcycle races, she criss-crossed the country through small towns, big cities, and wide open spaces.

But not everyone was happy to see Bessie's brown face peeking out from underneath her helmet. And more than once, Bessie found herself making some quick exits on the back of her bike to escape Jim Crow. A trailblazer in the world of women's racing and motorcycling, Bessie Stringfield was a figure who will inspire all children to pursue their dreams.

From the first line, award-winning author Charles R. Smith Jr.'s poetry evokes emotion, excitement, fear, and wonder in equal measures. Charlot Kristensen portrays Bessie and the American landscape with vivid imagery that is sure to capture the attention of young readers.

A much-needed story about a Black woman who paved the way for future generations, for fans of The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson and My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña.

Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 09/20/2022
Pages: 40
Weight: 1.15lbs
Size: 9.13h x 11.02w x 0.47d
ISBN: 9781338752472
Age: Ages 4-8

Accelerated Reader:
Reading Level: 4.8
Point Value: 0.5
Interest Level: Lower Grade
Quiz #/Name: 517665 / Bessie the Motorcycle Queen

Review Citation(s):
Kirkus Reviews 07/15/2022
Booklist 08/01/2022 pg. 48
School Library Journal 08/12/2022 pg. 1
Publishers Weekly 10/24/2022

About the Author
Charlot Kristensen is a Dublin based illustrator, designer, and book author. As a Black artist she often depicts underrepresented characters in empowering ways to help change their narratives. Some of her most renowned clients include HuffPost, Google, Scholastic, Penguin Random House, and the New York Times. You can find her at
Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer, and poet with over thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration (2010) for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem, My People and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award (2008) for his biography on Muhammed Ali, Twelve Rounds to Glory. Many of his books have also garnered reluctant reader awards, proving that kids that don't like to read do like to read his books. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and currently lives in Poughkeepsie, New York. You can find him at