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A Bus Called Heaven

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About the Author

Bob Graham is the author-illustrator of many award-winning books for children, including How to Heal a Broken Wing and April and Esme, Tooth Fairies. He lives in Australia. "I left those people on the last page of Heaven knowing that there is still rust under that new paint job, but if the developers stay away from the vacant lot, the bus has surely reached a happy destination. There is a kettle inside, a row of mugs on cup hooks, and quite often a cake from Mrs. Stavros. Hopefully for years to come it will be a happy refuge for people, baby birds, and snails." -- Bob Graham


One day a clapped-out, abandoned old bus appears outside Stella’s house with a hand-painted sign on it saying ‘Heaven’. As forlorn as a beached whale, the bus attracts the curiosity of many bystanders but it is pale little Stella, ‘the colour of moonlight’, who decides to claim it with the help of her neighbours. The resourceful group push the bus into Stella’s front yard and clean, buff and paint it until Heaven is as good as new. It becomes a communal space for everyone to enjoy (to share stories, play games, just to meet up)--that is, until a tow truck arrives, threatening to take it away to the wreckers because it is ‘against regulations’. Bob Graham’s latest picture book is recommended for children age three and above. As usual, the writer/illustrator’s work is whimsical and sweet, with busy street scenes and lots of detail for the little ones to pore over. A community rallying together to save something precious is a simple message that preschoolers can understand. Stella too is a good choice in heroine; normally hiding in the shadows of her mother, she has a chance to come out and shine, as her desire to save the bus enables her to overcome her shyness. Thuy On is a Melbourne reviewer and manuscript assessor

It is the lovely communality of the story--an ever-presence that is elegantly, softly presented--that will grab young readers, simply because the school bus is just so cool. It's got birds nesting in the engine block, a Foosball table, music, all sorts of things going on and the usual joyful noise of people up to whatever it is they enjoy being up to. Aiding the mood of merriment are Graham's illustrations, with their sinewy black line work, delicate, peaches-and-cream colors and loving depiction of all kinds of people. The destination sign on the bus reads "Heaven," and just so, a little piece here on Earth. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) In a story where every turn is possible, if improbable, Graham makes readers believe. High hopes and busy, vibrant artwork that mixes metaphor with true grit will entice children--and parents--into further rereadings. --Booklist (starred review) Graham's ink-and-watercolor scenes capture the small details of a struggling urban neighborhood eager for a sign of hope. And he effortlessly depicts a slice of city life, in which people of various religions, races, ages, and occupations pull together as one. As Stella shifts from meek to bold, and the bus transforms into a rainbow of color and activity, Graham's artwork grows brighter, too, highlighting the story's transformative message. --Publishers Weekly Ink and watercolor cartoon illustrations reinforce the earnest story's message of unity and hope, capturing the welcoming heart and spirit of Stella's urban neighborhood. --School Library Journal Graham's inviting ink and watercolor illustrations vary perspectives dynamically. Close-up, detailed panels celebrate difference, while expansive single- and double-page views pull back to place this little urban utopia in a bleak industrial landscape. --The Horn Book If you've ever wanted to teach your children about the importance of community, and what can be accomplished with a little determination and a lot of creativity, this one's for you. --Huffington Post Parents blog

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