bus called heaven

A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham

It all started when the bus with a sign that said “heaven” was abandoned on Stella’s street.  Traffic slowed, people gathered, and Stella took her thumb out of her mouth and suggested that the abandoned bus could be “ours.”  So everyone helped move it out of the street and into Stella’s front yard.  It stuck out a bit into the sidewalk and took up the entire yard.  The next morning when Stella looked out her window, things had changed again.  Now there were people sitting on their front wall, children wrestling in the grassy shade under the bus.  The adults began cleaning things up.  When some boys spray painted the side of the bus one night, they were invited back to paint one of Stella’s designs instead.  The bus had become a hub of activity for the entire community.  But then one Saturday morning things changed again, when a tow truck arrived.  What will happen next to the bus called heaven?

Graham creates books that have a special sort of feel to them, a sense of place and community, but that are also infused with a wonder and magic all their own.  Here he takes one abandoned bus and creates that community in our modern world where it is lacking.  This is not a statement about the problems of our society, but rather a look at what it could be if we were only willing. 

The illustrations are done in his signature style that has lots of details, fine lines, and soft colors that manage to be bright too.  He plays with color here, making Stella almost ghostlike in her paleness.  When she gets excited two dots of pink appear, but she does not ever fully become colored like the other characters.  She is a pale but very solid young character.

This is an uplifting read about the little changes that create a community and the little children that can lead us there.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.