A Bus Called Heaven

Bob Graham. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5893-9
An abandoned, broken-down bus—destination “Heaven”—unites a community and inspires Stella, the heroine of Graham’s (April and Esme: Tooth Fairies) uplifting story. “It could be... ours,” whispers Stella, a quiet girl “the color of moonlight” who sees only potential for the battered vehicle. Stella’s visionary attitude is contagious, and soon all the neighbors are helping clean and decorate the bus, making it into a lovely community hub, complete with table soccer, a fishbowl, and a library of books for everyone to enjoy. Even when city regulations threaten the bus, Stella finds a truly original way to save the day. Graham’s ink-and-watercolor scenes capture the small details (overgrown yards, vacant lots, old tires, and refrigerators) of a struggling urban neighborhood eager for a sign of hope. And he effortlessly depicts a slice of city life, in which people of various religions, races, ages, and occupations pull together as one. As Stella shifts from meek to bold, and the bus transforms into a rainbow of color and activity, Graham’s artwork grows brighter, too, highlighting the story’s transformative message. Ages 3–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2012
Release date: 03/13/2012
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