Sep 9, 2019

Busy Bus Is Back- with a New Journey Ahead!

I was eager to share BUSY BUS last summer (2018) when this lively little vehicle first appeared in the picture book world, HERE.  IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS is Jody Jensen Shaffer's take on a first-day-of-school story that's original and ideal for the smallest school kids, especially ones going on a school bus for the very first time. In it, we learn how eager and ready BUSY BUS is for that important job, but also how the worries of a brand new bus can mirror those of a small child: Will I get homesick? Will I make friends? The reassurances from more experienced school buses and others, along with the installation of his nameplate, allow BUSY BUS to "square his shoulders", regain his spirit, and head out into the world with confidence.  

The recent release of IT'S A FIELD TRIP, BUSY BUS finds BUSY BUS (name plate intact) expanding his responsibilities from school-home round trips to taking kids on a field trip to the FIRE STATION. 
In the original picture book, BUSY BUS is eager to begin its important purpose in life, but worries about not having the size, importance, or fancy bells and whistles of larger buses and equipment. While BUSY BUS works through that anxious stage, young readers are introduced to the many safety components of a bus and their specific part-names. This "first" for BUSY BUS provides a stage for young readers to learn similar key points about fire trucks and their operators and tools. Meanwhile, as BUSY BUS loses confidence about his ability to handle a place in the lives of those young learners, the bigger, bulkier, better-established FIRETRUCK helps BUSY BUS recognize his own value. 
I really enjoy the blend of real-world situations and information combined with revealing the emotional and personified trucks/buses who recognize the cautious-and-fragile self-concept of the newcomer. When they offer their guiding insights as experienced mentor "elders" their encouragement is successful. 

As I wrote this draft and saved it to publish now, I had time to think about the importance of young children developing confidence and agency, how they learn to trust older and more experienced kids and adults. I marveled again at the skill in storytelling and simple imagery that brings BUSY BUS to life as so much more than a machine or a character. BUSY BUS is truly a friend to the reader, and a heroic model for the courage he summons despite his self-doubt. 
Those thoughts reminded me of the importance of older-peer support, of the roles that lead to his success in both books. I suddenly remembered a book that is a timeless and universal favorite, THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD by Watty Piper. And time to remember that book meant I could add the reference here before sharing the post.
A simple chant of "I THINK I CAN" calls to mind the bravery of that little blue engine who saved the holidays for the children. In its case, though, the other trains and engines declined to take on a role better suited them, extending their disdain for the little engine and its trivial task into taunts and ridicule. That brave little engine persisted in spite of having no support, and some kids will need to do the same. 
But how much more positive and hopeful it is to have a hero like BUSY BUS who is capable, but needs encouragement and perspective to regroup and reach its potential. Isn't that what we hope will be available for all kids? BUSY BUS models an ability to accept help and to trust, to turn to the greater society for guidance in order to reach his goals. I'm really pleased that this frame of support continues through this second book featuring BUSY BUS.
Claire Messer also continues her partnership with BUSY BUS, preserving his delightful personality and the ongoing delight and curiosity of the kids in each scene. In fact, it's fun to notice the diverse collection of kids, figuring out if they are the same group as pictured in the original book. Also ideal is the identical square-chunky-oversized format of both titles, reinforcing the face-front image of BUSY BUS in each book. How long will we have to wait to learn more about the future adventures of BUSY BUS?


  1. I'm speechless, Sandy. Thank you so much! I'm delighted you love Busy Bus's latest adventure.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Jody. I was pleased with my own procrastination in getting this posted, because it allowed that nagging thought about the LITTTLE ENGINE to seep through from my subconscious. The little blue engine is certainly a hero, but those reliable yellow buses are heroes day after day. Can't help but wonder what BB's next challenge will be.
    A Wisconsin snowstorm?

  3. Ha! That would be something! Stay tuned...


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