Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus

CD. 16:18 min. with hardcover book. Spoken Arts. 2011. ISBN 0-8045-4231-9. $29.95.
Gr 1–4—Kyle is worried about his first time riding the bus to school. His older brother has told him about the hazards of riding the bus, and has given him ten rules he must follow in order to survive the ordeal. When Kyle boards the bus, it seems that he can't help breaking one rule after another. To his surprise, things go all right, and he decides he doesn't need to follow his brother's advice after all. John Grandits's text is fairly lengthy for a picture book, but it's written in an informal narrative style, with a natural flow and cadence. Michael Austin's full-page acrylic illustrations augment the text. With an intense mix of realistic technique coupled with surreal perspective and distortions, he makes people and objects take on animal features that reflect Kyle's fears. The boy becomes a zebra walking among lions, a little girl becomes an octopus, and the bully becomes a bear. Older boys are likely to find the pictures appealing, but some younger children may find them upsetting. The narrator's pleasant tenor voice is considerably less threatening than the illustrations. Light background music matches the mood of the narration. Janet Morgan Stoeke's The Bus Stop (Dutton, 2007) is a more cheery option about a child's first bus ride.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

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