cover image BUS STOP, BUS GO!


Daniel Kirk, . . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23333-3

With the color-saturated oils and retro graphics that have become his trademark, Kirk (Bigger) saves his readers a primo seat on a rip-roaring school bus ride. He alternates strong rectilinear double-page compositions of the bus's exterior with cartoon panels that keep the pace brisk, as he plunges readers into the heady claustrophobia of the bus's long, narrow interior. Game-playing, studying, extracurricular reading, primping, gossiping and snacking occur cheek-by-jowl. Freckle-faced Tommy brings Hammy the hamster for show-and-tell, and the critter's escape from its cage heightens the normal chaos of the daily bus trip. Dialogue balloons and a bongo-beat rhyming text punctuate the pictures as news of Hammy bounces from kid to kid: " 'I've got a brand-new game!'/ 'Tommy, is your hamster tame?'/ 'I used to have a hamster, too!'/ 'What is this, the city zoo?!?' " With Hammy's recapture—from atop an ashen-faced girl's head—the comic narrative tension gives the satisfying pop of overinflated bubble gum, and the children pile off the bus for the more orderly confines of school. For children who count the school bus ride as the highlight of their day, this ride with Kirk will seem like it's over too soon. Ages 4-8. (July)