Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Wheels on the Bus by Jeanne Willis and Adam Stower (Barron's Educational Series)

There comes a time when your darling children become the fount of all knowledge, and suddenly know EVERYTHING overnight. Not only that, they will quickly correct you if you stuff up or get anything wrong.

So perhaps that's my defence in having trouble with "The Wheels on the Bus" by Jeanne Willis and Adam Stower.

All kids have "The Wheels on the Bus" pretty much ground into every fibre of their being from a very early age, at nursery and preschool, at song groups at their lovely local library, or on children's TV shows. It's not too bad to change things around a bit and 'cheat' by introducing extra characters making silly noises on the bus journey, but Charlotte took a huge dislike to this version because - agh, there's no polite way of saying it - it just doesn't flow. Very unusual for anything Jeanne Willis has written, but it breaks spectacularly at the end of each verse.

You see, there's a certain bounciness to the original

"The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round,
Round and Round, Round and Round
The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round
All Day Long"

And yet in this version, the bus hits a brick wall at each turn of the page - so you get

"The Elephant on the bus goes trumpet trumpet trumpet
trumpet trumpet trumpet
trumpet trumpet trumpet
The Elephant on the bus goes Trumpet trumpet trumpet.
At The Zoo"

It's the sing-a-long rhyme equivalent of driving over a very bumpy road then ending in a ditch, and of course even with the great introduction of some colourful (and in one case, rather farty) animal characters, the fact that it was 'wrong' meant Charlotte couldn't get on with it at all, didn't engage with it and hasn't touched it since. Oh dearie dearie me.

Sorry guys, in all other respects it's a lovely looking book and you might be able to sneak this version in for very young bookworms (2-3 perhaps?) but not past a smart-alec near-5 year old :)

Charlotte's best bit: Of course it had to be the skunks. Even 5 year old girls find gaseous emissions funnier than anything else in the entire world.

Daddy's favourite bit: Great illustrations with some extremely busy panels but such a shame it just doesn't flow.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Pearson)