Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

A Bus Called Heaven

Graham, Bob (Author/Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2012. 40 pages
First published: 2011
ISBN: 9780763658939 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

When a derelict bus (“as sad as a whale on a beach”) suddenly appears in Stella’s busy inner-city neighbourhood, it right away “brought change to Stella’s street. Traffic slowed where no traffic had slowed before.” When she convinces the neighbours to push the bus into her driveway, a community is formed and the old rusty vehicle, with a destination sign reading ‘Heaven,’ is reborn.

Images in thin line and pale watercolour washes depict modest homes and shops engulfed by city towers and industrial plants. Cartoonish characters convey the rich, ethnic diversity among the neighbours. Yarmulkes, turbans and headscarves mingle as everyone works to transform the bus into a cozy community living room. In one image, the priest and the imam play with a baby. Old men enjoy checkers, while women chat in lawn chairs. Readers gather in the corner by the bookshelf and kids jump on old furniture. Even birds have nested in the broken-down engine. The message that we all have everything we need could not be clearer.

Young readers will join the celebration when Stella saves this special space from the junkyard. The final image shows the bus like a glowing star, twinkling with friends, in a twilight landscape of tenement blocks, trucks and telephone wires: “and the grass was danced flat around a bus called Heaven.”

  •  

    Browse the illustrations and notice the variety of page layouts such as full-page spreads, single panels (the picture is inside a box) and multiple panels. Note the use of perspective and colour. As you read, discuss the effectiveness of these techniques in helping to tell the story.

  •  Revisit the prologue and epilogue. Use a graphic organizer to retell the important events that happened in between.
  •  Where do you think the bus came from? In a group, create a new book page, comic strip, script or skit that explains how the bus arrived in the neighbourhood.
  •  

    Imagine you are one of the characters. Write a paragraph to a local politician explaining the importance of allowing the bus to stay in the vacant lot.

  •  

    Make predictions about the story based on the front and back covers. Discuss the setting.

  •  

    After the book is read aloud, in small teams, use a graphic organizer to depict the bus’s transformation.

  •  

    Discuss Stella’s implication, voice and ownership in this project. What expressions does she use to voice her attachment to it?

  •  

    Discuss the impact of this project on Stella’s community. Learn about a project that has been taken on by your community (or a project that could be taken on). Explain in writing how this project is (could be) valuable.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life