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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Bus Ride, written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc. Kids Can Press, 2015. $16.95 ages 4 and up

"This is the first time
I'm taking the bus by
Mom packed me a
snack - and had me
bring my sweater in
case I get cold."

This is the first of two books about buses today. Each helps us to see how truly diverse our world can be!

I love the way this book is designed. Opening to the first page gives the reader the feeling of riding a bus, with its long horizontal lines and the opportunity to include so much in the artwork on the double page spreads. We watch as the bus pulls up to where a small girl and her mother are holding hands at the #18 stop. Clara gets on board, waves to her mother from the window, and promises to be good.

Her companions on this first solo bus ride are numerous and varied; with each stop those passengers change. In a strong first person narrative, Clara lets us know that she is well prepared for the ride - she has a snack, and a sweater. As they roll along, the action is non-stop and certainly in need of our attention. Each double page spread is filled with details about her fellow passengers. As we go, she gives us a play by play of the outside world as well.

The setting changes are evident through the windows of the bus, and include a short, somewhat scary pass through a dark tunnel. We watch as passengers get on and off the bus, each illustration adding telling vignettes of their lives and family. A goat offers a small flower from a large bouquet, the sloth sleeps, the mole mother is distracted by her exuberant family of three little ones (who seem to have enough energy for several more), the sloth sleeps, the turtle tucks in every time the action becomes too much for his quiet personality, a woman with a newspaper full of telling headlines remains faceless, the sloth sleeps. Each character has its own distinct personality.

There is no being alone on this bus ... and that is the delight of it! Adventurous and full of charm, with illustrations that will have little ones wanting to pore over it again and again, we are reminded of Little Red Riding Hood but never feel threatened by the animals who share Clara's space as she makes her first trip alone to Grandma's house. Imagine the stories she will have to tell her grandmother of the community of fellow travellers she met along the way!


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