The Bus Ride - Marianne Dubuc

Clara is taking the bus to her grandma's house by herself for the first time. To her delight, the other riders – an assortment of animal characters – are friendly, fascinating and funny. There is plenty to see on this adventure, with lots of satisfying details in the illustrations (including the changing headlines on a newspaper, which sometimes hint at what's to come), proving that it really is the journey that counts.

(First published in France as L'autobus.)

Though the story itself is simple, there is much to find throughout the book in terms of allusions to other older, beloved fairy tales and stories. One of the most obvious examples is the Little Red Riding Hood parallel, with Clara taking a basket and her little red sweater on the bus to visit her grandma. Of course, she also runs into a wolf on the bus, though the wolf is a child in this story, and becomes Clara's friend for a portion of the journey. She also encounters a bear, a pickpocketing fox, and many others. Though a linear plot is lacking, the book will offer much to those who like to come up with their own stories for characters.

Within the images are many visual gags, too, such as ever-changing newspaper headlines, and a sloth who, though asleep, somehow always changes seats throughout the story. The illustrations are subtle and use a child-like style. The colours are somewhat muted except where Clara is concerned. The mix of human and adult characters is fun and will keep children entertained. There are also a number of smaller stories being acted out within the main one, such as the pickpocket story, and other tales running between secondary characters in the background. That being said, the book did, at times, feel a bit messy and unfinished where the multiple stories are concerned. 

Overall, it's an enjoyable book with a lot going for it, at least for those who do not need a fully developed linear plot for their books.

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