A city neighborhood takes shape around an abandoned school bus as Jell-O takes to a mold, in Graham’s tickling, gladdening tale.
A bus gets abandoned on a downtown street. At first it is just a curiosity piece, but a little girl senses some greater potential. Neighbors push and pull it into a side yard. They clean it out. Graffiti artists give it a coat of paint. The bus becomes a hub, a village green, a community center, a sanctuary enlivened by Graham’s multicultural throng: Sikh, Hasidim, sitar players, line dancers—we were all strangers once, so howdy, stranger. There comes the inevitable threat, which is neutralized by the wiles of youth. It is the lovely communality of the story—an ever-presence that is elegantly, softly presented—that will grab young readers, simply because the school bus is just so cool. It's got birds nesting in the engine block, a Foosball table, music, all sorts of things going on and the usual joyful noise of people up to whatever it is they enjoy being up to. Aiding the mood of merriment are Graham’s illustrations, with their sinewy black line work, delicate, peaches-and-cream colors and loving depiction of all kinds of people.
The destination sign on the bus reads “Heaven,” and just so, a little piece here on Earth. (Picture book. 3-8)