cover image Axle Annie

Axle Annie

Robin Pulver. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2096-1

On wintry days, the Burskyville school superintendent calls school bus driver Axle Annie to see whether she can drive her route: ""If you say no, I'll close the schools. My decision depends on you."" Annie always answers, ""Do snowplows plow? Do tow trucks tow? Are school buses yellow? Of course I'll make it up Tiger Hill!"" Thanks to her, the local schools never have a snow day. This enrages Shifty Rhodes, a lazy bus driver whose very name suggests icy conditions. With a crooked ski-resort owner (aptly called Hale Snow), Shifty conspires to use a snowmaking machine on Tiger Hill. Needless to say, Annie (with a little help from her friends) rises to the challenge. Pulver (Nobody's Mother Is in Second Grade) creates a memorable character in Annie, who welcomes both children and stranded motorists aboard her bus. Arnold (Green Wilma; Huggly Takes a Bath) portrays her as a woman who joyously greets a snowstorm by standing in front of an open window. Annie's excited smile never leaves her face, and she sports a brown leather aviator's jacket, a woolly flight cap and goggles when she takes the wheel. True, Annie pushes the envelope of safety, and the author doesn't account for the glee of Annie's young passengers, who can't wait to get to school. Nevertheless, this lively tale of an idiosyncratic bus driver may warm a chilly crowd on a would-be snow day. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)