Gus, the Dinosaur Bus

tr. from Chinese by Jamie White. illus. by Bei Lynn. 32p. Houghton Harcourt. July 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90573-0.
PreS-K—When a long-necked dinosaur serves as the bus, none of the kids want to miss school. Though everyone loves Gus-the city even builds a special road just for him-the principal finally tires of complaints about him knocking down traffic lights and getting tangled in phone wires and removes him from the road. Relegated to the school gym, Gus makes a swimming pool with his tears and finds a new life as the school's playground, with a swing on his tail and his long neck serving as a slide. In tone and visual details, this gentle story is reminiscent of Syd Hoff's classic Danny and the Dinosaur (HarperCollins, 1958). Lynn's scratchy, childlike watercolor and pencil cartoons have a daydreamy quality that suits Liu's simple text. Gus's story holds universal appeal; even a dinosaur can learn to turn lemons into lemonade.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
For lots of little kids, riding a school bus is excitement in itself. The schoolchildren in this Taiwanese import are lucky enough to have for their mode of transport. . .a dinosaur. "Supersaurus" Gus traipses around the city picking up kids. "The children who live in apartments don't even need to walk downstairs. They hop out their windows and slide down to their seats" (a cute bit of foreshadowing). Gus is beloved by all, but his heavy-footed-ness and long-necked-ness create municipal challenges including giant potholes and tangled telephone wires, not to mention the traffic snarls caused by him hogging all the lanes. After one too many complaints, the school principal has no choice but to pull Gus from active duty. The dino starts to cry, creating an Alice-like pool of tears. . .into which the children eagerly dive. They slide down his neck into the water -- and that gives everyone an idea, not to mention a new lease on life for Gus. The story's mild suspense is just right for the book's audience, with the solution likely to have kids wishing their own play spaces were so much fun. Scribbly watercolor and pencil illustrations on creamy paper are just how a child-drawn city might look, all shaky-lined rectangular buildings and imperfect-circle-headed people. And the kindly pea-green dino steals the show with his huge smile and even bigger heart. elissa gershowitz

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