I'm Smart!

I'm Smart! illus. by Jim McMullan. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062449238.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—Oozing confidence and energy, a big-eyed, grinning school bus describes his morning route, informing listeners that it "takes BRAINS to do my job—drive you to SCHOOL and keep you SAFE!" As with previous titles, the McMullans (I'm Brave!; I Stink!; I'm Cool!) infuse everyday activities with an infectious excitement bound to entice vehicle-loving youngsters. When the bus's lights flash amber, it means "Cars and trucks, SLO-O-O-OW DOWN!" And when the lights turn red and the bus's stop paddle pops out, he commands, "Everybody stop! And don't move till I quit flashing." When a sporty silver car doesn't heed the bus's warning to halt, a police car shows up—to the glee of the bus's passengers. After a closed lane brings traffic to a crawl, the bus keeps the bored kids from getting antsy with a pop quiz, alerts them about a bump in the road, and, at last, delivers them to school. Rendered in bold colors and fonts and rarely skimping on the exclamation points, the text is utterly exuberant, ideal for read-alouds. Though the vehicles have a goofy, cartoonish look, the watercolors are painterly and elegant, particularly those depicting the wide expanse of houses along the bus's route.
VERDICT A perfect back-to-school storytime option, and a fun way to prepare children who are nervous about taking the school bus for the first time.

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