thumbnail-coverOur new book makes it easier for those of us working on sustainability, in areas such as renewable energy, urban gardens, ocean resources, green building, or cycling, to share it with 3-8 year old kids. Here you can:

  • see 50-second video flip-through of the book (or 16-sec version  here)
  • read a short and long summary
  • request a review copy (digital only)
  • buy the book from Amazon, ( you can also or order from local bookshops)
  • read some testimonials
  • see closeups of some of the illustrations
  • link to more information about the design and technology that inspired the book



Does your child like bikes, skateboards, snowboards? What about boats, trains, or airships? If so, this title is for you. The story, powered by renewable energy, follows a family trip using all those transport modes and more. Bumbling spies try to steal a package that the family is delivering to the science center in another city. Hold on to your cycle helmets for this exciting family ride!


The family’s road trip starts from their home in an eco-district. They set out on bicycles and ride among many different types of bikes (tandems, cargo bikes, fold-up bikes etc) on their way to catch the airship. Spies follow the family throughout, trying to steal the mother’s package (one of her inventions) that’s going to be shown at the science center. The airship flies over a desert where the family see two types of solar power installations, alongside people having fun sand boarding and sand sailing. The airship also flies over the ocean, and the family sees wind turbines, wave energy machines, seaweed farm, fish farm, and a sail-assisted container ship.

When the airship lands, members of the family take a station scooter and a bike bus to reach the science center, where they deliver their package and also enjoy the exhibits. They visit a skate park before taking a train and boat on the return journey. Finally just before reaching home they stop at a local park to race balloon cars.  The story ends with the parents putting the children to bed after their busy day. There’s also a solar hornet—the only insect with built in solar panels—to find on every page. As in Richard Scarry’s books, which inspired us, the characters take the form of anthropomorphized animals.


If you have an audience for whom you’d like to review this book, please contact ab(at)kidsfuturepress (dot) com for a digital, watermarked review copy.


Bicycles, Airships, and Things that Go (Amazon)
By Bernie McAllister, illustrated by John Aardema
ISBN 978-0-9916255-0-5
30 pages, color, 8″ x 10″
paperback $12.99, £10.00, €14.00, $ CAN 17.00, 18.00 AUD

Or order from local book shops and download the free teaching and learning guide (PDF) for parents and teachers.


What parents are saying:

“The girls loved the illustrations!  I don’t think they were even listening to the story half the time because they were rapidly scanning the pages discovering things.”

“There was a question about what the playground equipment was made of and I admit I didn’t know what it was.  Olivia (4 yrs) quickly answered it was made of wind turbines.  I guaranteed she’s never heard or said those words together so clearly she retained it from earlier in the book, which was impressive.”

“On most pages there was a ‘Who-oa! as in ‘How cool!’ and of course they never batted an eye at any of the technologies. I liked the idea that reading this story taught them that such things are normal. Lots of good, cool, simple ideas.”

“I could honestly envision a series of these books.”

“I got this for my son’s fourth birthday and it’s a hit!! Love the detailed drawings.” ( 5 star review)

“there are some really great books that talk separately about recycling or litter or composting or gardening etc., but I haven’t found another one that connects all the dots. ” ( 5 star review)

Hover over the picture to activate the arrows that navigate through the images.

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Page 3: LED light suit inspired by photographer Jacob Sutton’s concept, designed by John Spatcher, worn by snowboarder William Hughes. See amazing photos and video

Page 4-5: Neighborhood inspired by living streets and ecodistricts, as championed by Portland’s Ecodistricts organization.

MIT’s proposed stackable ‘city cars’ inspire our row of electric vehicles.

MIT’s Sheila Kennedy and students made the solar lounger.

The solar hornet is alone in the animal kingdom in generating electricity from the sun’s light; tissues with yellow pigment trap light, while tissues with brown pigments generate electricity.

Page 6-7: The wide range of bicycles available today inspires our scene.

Page 8-9: Bike parking inspired by Amsterdam Centraal Station. OR

Vertical gardens inspired by the work of Patrick Blanc and urban agriculturists. OR
Electric vehicle charging is becoming available in many cities.

Pages 10-11: Although passenger airships may be futuristic, companies such as Hybrid Air Vehicles

and Aeros

are developing cargo and military airships.

Page 12-13: German company SkySails makes automated towing kites and wind propulsion systems for ships.

Vattenfall’s Lillgrund, with 48 turbines operational since 2007, inspires our transformer station and wind farm.

Page 16-17: Solar power plants exist in both circular “chimneys” and field-like “farms.” Belgian energy firm Enfinity’s facility in Les Mées, France inspired our hillside farm.

Page 18-19: Bike buses inspired by Dutch company Tolkamp Metaalspecials and Boston-based Busycle (Heather Clark and Matthew Mazzotta).

The angled glass building is based on top U.S. energy-efficient Federal Center South Building 1202 by ZGF Architects with Landscape by SiteWorkshop.

Enviro-award winning Kuggen office building (Gothenburg, Sweden) inspired the saw-tooth facade.

Designers Marc Granen and Marco Castro (Bus Roots), in Spanish and U.S. cities, inspired the garden-top bus.–design/bus-roots/2/

Page 20-21: Many science museums and science centers inspired our Science Center, but the geometry playground was inspired by the Geometry Playground of the San Francisco Exploratorium We regret this source was omitted from the printed book and will be included in the next edition.

Page 22-23: Electroland’s “Enteractive” (by Cameron McNall and Damon Seeley) inspired the interactive light plaza;

Tilly’s skateboarding is inspired by female skaters including Lucy Adams, Lacey Baker, Leticia Bufoni, Amy Caron, Marisa Dal Santo, and Vanessa Torres.

Page 24-25: Paul Priestman conceptualized a network of local trams that dock with high-speed trains at the city periphery to avoid waiting at station platforms.

Page 26-27: Ferry inspired by Australian Solarsailor ferries and by the world’s largest 100% solar-powered boat, Planet Solar’s Turanor, by Raphaël Domjan and Immo Stroeher.

Oru by Anton Willis inspires the folding kayak.

Page 28-29: The playground made from wind turbine rotors is inspired by the Wikado playground (2008) by Jeroen Bergsma, Césare Peren, and Jos de Krieger of Dutch firm Superuse Studios.

Compost bins are inspired by Italy’s Metalsistem SUPERINOX outdoor furniture.