Reviews for I'm Your Bus

Booklist Reviews 2009 July #1
In short lines that read with the rhythm and bounce of a chant, a cheerful school bus describes its day, starting in the early morning when dozing buses wake while sweepers sweep and bakers bake. The digitally rendered pictures, composed of bold black outlines and bright colors, create a wholly endearing character in the yellow bus as it moves through each hour, dropping off kids at school, waiting patiently at the zoo during a field trip (giraffes lean over the fence to greet the idling vehicle), bringing children home, and finally settling in for a night's sleep under a crescent moon. Children will enjoy calling out the titular refrain, and they will connect immediately with the sunny vehicle, which is fully anthropomorphized, from the wide, expressive eyes that peer out from behind the front windows to the giant grin that makes up its front grill. Both energetic and reassuring, this is an excellent choice for young children facing their very first school-bus commute. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 August
Back to school, with a smile

With year-round school schedules and earlier and earlier starting dates, it’s sometimes hard to say when the back-to-school season for American kids begins. Those of us of a certain age know that school should start after Labor Day, but that, like cassette players and phones with cords, is just a quaint old-timey idea in many parts of the country.

No matter the start date in your area, it won’t be long before kindergartners and elementary school kids are looking for books to explain the world of school to them. Whenever your new school year begins, you can be ready with these new offerings and know that they will help pave the way to a successful school year.

It’s not just kids who go to school—buses make the daily trek, too. Poet Marilyn Singer explores in exuberant rhyme the trip to school in I’m Your Bus, illustrated by Evan Polenghi. Every page bustles with brightness and sparkle, and even the traffic lights on the dedication page have big smiling faces, ready for school! Short, easy-to-read rhymes keep this story moving. “Sweepers sweeping, bakers baking. / Dawn is barely even breaking. / Time for buses to be waking!” All the vehicles, from street sweepers and trucks to taxis and limos, are painted with wide, welcoming smiles—just the encouragement youngsters need to face a new school year. This would be a wonderful book to read on one of the first days of kindergarten, even if your kids walk or drive; the rhythm is infectious and the words are easy to memorize, which makes this a perfect choice for children who are excited about learning to read.

French lessons

Once parents have gotten their children over their concerns about school buses, the real issue will have to be faced: school itself. No matter the happy faces that parents put on, some kids do not want to go to school, ever. A newcomer to America, Stephanie Blake, has just the antidote for this reluctance with I Don’t Want to Go to School! Originally published in France, this is the humorous tale of Simon, a mischievous little rabbit who does not want to go to school. Each time one of his parents tells him all the great things that happen at school, he answers with just two words, “No way!” Despite his firm statements, the time for the first day keeps drawing nearer and nearer. Using a mixture of half-page illustrations, saturated primary colored backgrounds and amusing graphic elements, the story will have new readers  delightfully unsure whether Simon will even go to school, let alone like it. American children will enjoy some of the details that mark this book as a little bit Continental—the children have chocolate mousse in the cafeteria, nap under a communal blanket and the blackboards and posters are written in cursive with the numbers one and seven jauntily crossed. Simon’s many facial expressions are a marvel as well. The endpapers alone will make the most worried kindergartner laugh! Simon might be the perfect friend to carry to school on the first day.

New beginnings

A much more serious offering about school adjustment is My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Catherine Stock. This is the gentle story of one refugee boy from Sudan and his adjustment to life in his new country, the United States. Young readers will quickly empathize with Sangoel as he, his mother and sister enter the bustling airport, filled with English signs and people speaking English. Because his father was killed in Sudan and he carries his Dinka name, Sangoel is the man of the family and the only one who speaks any English. The biggest adjustment for Sangoel is school. Everywhere he turns, people mispronounce his name, and he fears he will lose even that connection to his father. But his ingenuity pays off when he figures out a way to let everyone know just how his name is pronounced. Through soft watercolors and the occasional torn photo or fabric collage, Stock’s illustrations let the reader understand exactly how Sangoel is feeling and what a tremendous challenge it is to move to a new country and continent. Books like this tend to be preachy, but the writers keep the focus here on young Sangoel and his adjustment without veering into the political. Most schools in America have refugee children or children who are adjusting to a new culture and language; this is a book, along with Aliki’s excellent Marianthe’s Story, that should help build compassion in many classrooms.

Robin Smith teaches second grade in Nashville.

Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
"Howdy, you can count on us. / Morning, evening, I'm your bus." A friendly school bus describes its routine, from daybreak to nightfall: "Night is falling. Watchmen guard. / Buses settled in the yard. / We had fun and we worked hard." Polenghi's bold and energetic thick black line lends personality to the smiling yellow buses. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 June #2
A cheery yellow school bus, grille grinning from headlight to headlight, introduces itself to the children it carries from home to school and back again in rhythmic, three-line stanzas: "Watch those backpacks coming through. / Have fun today. Learn something new. / Later I'll come back for you." Like any good bus, it works to remember the children's names, punctuating its narration with personal greetings and goodbyes. The verse form is just right for eager preschoolers to latch onto, and Polenghi's digital illustrations feature busy, colorful scenes with heavy, black outlines, the titular bus dominating every composition. As a first-day-of-school reassurance for newly minted kindergartners, for whom the school bus is an often anxiety-producing rite of passage, this one's top-notch. (Picture book. 4-6) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 1-3--Rhyming text in the first and third person relates the daylong job of the big yellow vehicles as they head out into traffic, pick up passengers, drop them at school, provide transportation for trips, and deliver children back home at day's end. The repeated phrase "I'm your bus" injects a personal touch, as does the integration of children's names into the rhyme. Polenghi's digital media illustrations have bold colors and strong black lines, and his jovial anthropomorphizing of the oft-unheralded school bus brings a friendly demeanor to the pages. While there may not be a heavy child demand for books about these vehicles, they are a daily presence in children's lives whether in cities, suburbs, small towns, or rural areas, and this picture book may lift appreciation of them.--Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA

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