This bilingual spinoff of “The Wheels on the Bus” features many of the vehicles associated with community helpers.
In addition to the titular (school) bus, readers are introduced to the Spanish-language names for “ambulance,” “fire truck,” “train,” and so on. It works pretty well in English: “The alarm on the fire truck goes woo-ooo-ooo,” etc. Unfortunately, the nearly total lack of meter in the Spanish verses makes them awkward to sing: “La alarma del camión de bomberos hace uuuah uuuah uuuah.” A superfluous bus screech at the beginning and end also detracts from the song’s rhythm. A suspension of disbelief is necessary when the driver drops the children off not at school or even back at their homes, where they were first picked up, but at the park—where the children play at driving the vehicles they have just seen at a carnival. Except for substituting “all through the park” for “all through the town” in the recapitulation of verses near the end, the transition from school-bus ride to carnival rides is too abrupt. The story continues for four additional pages with the song all but forgotten as the children run to buy ice cream. Cepeda’s lively and familiar illustrations are the highlights in this multicultural neighborhood excursion. A musical score and nonphonetic glossary are included.
Though the book is unquestionably well-meaning, it just doesn’t work except as a vocabulary builder. (Bilingual picture book. 3-8)