In an elemental bit of grouping and number play, Joe the bus driver picks up and drops off animal passengers on his route.
By switching narrators, Byron passes up the chance for a neat segue from My Car (2001), which ends with motorist Sam leaving his car to drive off in a bus. Still, he has a lot of fun even with a different narrator. One dog, two cats, three more cats and finally four dogs board in succession, then depart in mixed groups of three for further trips in a train, a boat and a plane (the last dog goes home with Joe). The very simple illustrations are done in Barton’s characteristic style, in opaque, mostly primary colors with minimal detailing. Even very young children will have no trouble seeing and counting the passengers as they come and go—though more reflective viewers may be confused by Joe’s claim that “I drive my bus to town,” as all of the scenes show only rolling green hills with widely separated houses. In what can be read as a deft bit of humor, the cats and dogs sit peaceably (if on opposite sides of the bus) and, like commuters everywhere, stare glassily off into the distance rather than make eye contact with one another.
A pleasant ride, dissonance between the actual and described setting notwithstanding. (Picture book. 2-5)