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THE BUS RIDE

Good for imagination and travel, this merry bus ride has glimmers of “Little Red Riding Hood” but is entirely itself.

Clara (named only on the book jacket) narrates her own story of the first time she goes to Grandma’s house on the bus by herself.

Of course, she isn’t really alone. Quite a cast of characters joins her on the wide, spacious vehicle. They are all animals dressed (more or less) in people clothes and doing what people do on buses: knitting; reading the newspaper (whose headlines often relate to the action); napping. In fact, the sloth pretty much sleeps through the whole trip. Clara shares a cookie with a friendly wolf tot, is kind of freaked out by the darkness as the bus goes through a tunnel, and notes the mix-up when the knitting owl’s blue chapeau ends up on someone else’s head and the baby wolf’s binky ends up in his dad’s mouth. She even helps thwart a robbery! In delicately sketched but clear strokes Dubuc takes characters and readers through countryside and forest, and Clara reaches her destination, where her grandmother waits for her at the bus stop, looking very like Clara’s own mom but with silver hair. The exaggerated proportions of the book (6.75 inches high and 11 inches wide) echo that of the bus Clara rides in and make for dramatic double-page spreads.

Good for imagination and travel, this merry bus ride has glimmers of “Little Red Riding Hood” but is entirely itself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77138-209-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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