cover image When Mino Took the Bus

When Mino Took the Bus

Simona Ciraolo. Flying Eye, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-8387-4088-7

It’s time for Mino the chipmunk to strike out on his own. Saying goodbye to his tearful mother, he boards a bus with instructions to get off at the very last stop, where he’ll make his new home, perhaps planting the seeds he carries. “Mino can feel it calling, his feet are fidgety and impatient,” writes Ciraolo (The Lines on Nana’s Face). But the chatty chipmunk finds his endgame-centered attitude around travel altered when Guido, the racoon bus driver, tells him, “I often think the journey is just as important as the destination.” A community of animal passengers boards, shown in spring-hued, wash- and pencil-textured art that chronicles the group sharing seeds and snacks at a forest rest stop, holding a hootenanny on wheels, and exchanging treasured memories (Mino is comforted that all the animals, including the century-old tortoise, remember their mothers). Ciraolo’s poetic storytelling may raise unanswered questions in readers’ minds (How do Mino and his mother know where he is supposed to live? Are all the animals going to new homes?), but her deep empathy for those on the verge of a big transition—with all its excitement and anxiety—is unmistakable. At the last stop, the animals gaze out the bus window, contemplating their future with a mixture of apprehension and wonder, before disembarking toward their new lives. The journey has not only mattered—it has fortified them. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)