Park Slope

Brooklyn family authors children’s book inspired by Park Slope students

Brooklyn BookBeat

September 11, 2014 By Samantha Samel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn family Beth Handman (left), her daughter Antonia Bruno, and her husband Kenny Bruno co-authored “Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade,” a children’s book inspired by P.S. 321 students.
Share this:

Nine-year-old Josie Garcia is an ambitious girl from Brooklyn who becomes an advocate for preventing disastrous climate change and other environmental threats. The feisty heroine in “Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade,” Josie was inspired by the children of P.S. 321 in Park Slope. Kenny Bruno; his wife Beth Handman, assistant principal of P.S. 321; and their daughter Antonia Bruno, who went to school at P.S. 321, co-wrote the new children’s book, which they refer to as children’s “cli-fi” — climate fiction.  The Brooklyn family will launch their book two Park Slope events: on Friday, Sept. 12, they will speak at Barnes & Noble (267 Seventh Ave.) at 5:30 p.m., and on Wednesday, Sept. 17, they will speak at Community Bookstore (143 Seventh Ave.) at 7 p.m.  

“Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade” follows fourth grade student Josie. After spending a summer with her grandmother in Ecuador and taking a class trip to the zoo, she is prompted to take action to slow global warming. In an effort to go green and discourage the use of cars, Josie organizes the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade. Her best friends, brothers and other characters from the neighborhood go along for the ride, but not everyone joins in – and when those who oppose the plan voice their opinion, trouble begins for Josie and the Bike Brigade.

“Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade was inspired by the spontaneous activism of the students at P.S. 321,” Kenny Bruno told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.  “About eight years ago, P.S. 321 started the Go Green Walkathon and the Roots and Shoots after school club. As the kids learned about environmental issues and causes, they sprang into action. They went to local stores and asked them to stop carrying disposable plastic bags. The raided their piggy banks for donations to environmental groups. And we heard from parents that they started pressing them to save energy and water,” Bruno said.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Each of the authors had a specific role in producing the book. Kenny wrote much of the plot and focused on the content surrounding climate change, Beth was in charge of the pedagogical aspects and the level, while Antonia developed the characters and made sure the tone remained kid-friendly.  

Barnes & Noble has pre-ordered 1,500 copies of the book, which is the first in a series. Themes for the next book will be chosen by readers.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment