A young boy takes a terrifying bus ride on his way to his grandmother’s house in Becker and Fearing’s gleefully baleful picture book.
“’Twas the thirteenth of November, a stormy night, / when the Thirteen bus hove into sight. / Something about it didn’t seem right… // but Michael McMichael boarded.” And off young Michael McMichael goes on his way to deliver a beloved pet to his grandmother. A busful of creepy passengers doesn’t faze the young boy of color, but when he suddenly finds himself alone, he begins to notice the bus’s jawlike doors, its tonguelike floor, and the driver’s sinister leer. Becker’s rollicking rhyme scheme not only captures the rapid, lurching motion of Michael McMichael’s journey, but as the unnerving quickly escalates to the life-threatening, it also steadily envelops readers in the rising tension. Fearing’s dark but dynamic illustrations keep pace with the building intensity and intertwine with the text as seamlessly as humor intertwines with horror in a narrative that sits somewhere between “The Raven” and Courage the Cowardly Dog animated cartoons. And rather than pull back and return readers to the dullness of safety, Michael McMichael’s creative and disconcerting solution to free himself from the bus will leave readers with a whole new set of frissons.
Dark and delightful—for readers who enjoy chills with their giggles. (Picture book. 3-8)