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A Bus Called Heaven

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  356 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Could a broken-down bus really bring a whole city neighborhood together? Could it all start with a small girl named Stella?

One morning in front of Stella's house, an abandoned bus appears, looking sad as a whale on a beach. On its front, held up with packing tape, is a hand-painted sign that says Heaven. Right away, the bus brings change to Stella's street when people stop
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Candlewick (first published October 1st 2011)
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David Crumm
Apr 07, 2012 David Crumm rated it it was amazing
Care about diversity? Drive 'A Bus Called Heaven'!

“OURS!” little Stella cries in A Bus Called Heaven. That’s the defining moment in Bob Graham’s new book and the words stand alone in a big double-page spread, echoing through his urban landscape.

There are thousands of children’s books that celebrate creativity, compassion and fanciful good fun. In fact, as a Baby Boomer who loved reading books to my own kids, I often regret that we didn’t have more of these colorful picture books back when I was
Valerie Barnhart
I loved this book. It was inspiring that a young girl could have such an impact on the whole community. The bus becomes a place for people of the community to express their artistic abilities and positive interactions. This community needed this place. When the tow truck takes it away, the community comes together to get it back.

Several professional reviews are found:

One of things that surprised me was connection of the little girl's name as Stella, me
According to the May/June 2012 edition of The Horn Book Magazine (pg 66), Bob Graham actually saw a an old bus labeled "Heaven" on the street. He turned the sighting into a lovely and heartwarming community story.

I probably wouldn't use it in a program, but I certainly will display it often in the hopes that patrons will enjoy the humor and delight in what this diverse group of characters create together.
Danica Midlil
This reminded me of the feel of Stone Soup Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth. I love how Bob Graham always includes so many different kinds of people in his illustrations.
Graham's books are always populated by a charming cross-section of urbanites. In this book they band together to rescue an old bus and make a refuge for the community -- babies to seniors. There are a number of gaps in logic as the story progresses, but the charm of the effort is pleasing.
May 05, 2012 Joanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
A Bob Graham picture book is always something to look forward to.
Andy Hickman
Nov 06, 2016 Andy Hickman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A Bus Called Heaven” by Bob Graham

Delightful tale of suburban community forming around an abandoned old bus nicknamed 'Heaven'.
- - -
Vincent Desjardins
Stella lives in the city. When an abandoned bus with a sign taped to it reading “Heaven” appears one morning in front of Stella’s house, people in the neighborhood seem to change. For once, they stop and talk to one another. Stella, who usually has her thumb in her mouth, changes as well. She sees potential in the old bus and before you know it, she has inspired her community to clean it up and turn it into a neighborhood club house where all are welcome. Everyone brings something to donate to ...more
Ashley D--
Having heard that Bob Graham was like Australia's Robert Munsch, I was really excited to read this CBCA-nominated title. I was really disappointed. It is a needlessly long-winded story about some people who come together over a bus that someone names Heaven for absolutely no reason at all. The only way this story induces any pleasure for me is if I imagine it as an allegory for the mass suicide of an entire city neighbourhood. Not going to be recommending it like that to any parents anytime ...more
It really does take a village! Wonderful artwork in this little piece of heaven.
Nov 01, 2011 Judith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book
Every time I read a new Bob Graham book, I nearly always think it's my new favourite Bob Graham book—but this time it might really be my all-time favourite Bob Graham book. A battered old bus turns up one day, parked on the street outside Stella's house, sporting a cardboard sign proclaiming it "Heaven". And the neighbourhood is transformed from that day on.

I saw Bob Graham at the KOALA (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) 25th anniversary last week, and embarrassed myself by getting teary te
Jul 05, 2012 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
It all started when the bus with a sign that said “heaven” was abandoned on Stella’s street. Traffic slowed, people gathered, and Stella took her thumb out of her mouth and suggested that the abandoned bus could be “ours.” So everyone helped move it out of the street and into Stella’s front yard. It stuck out a bit into the sidewalk and took up the entire yard. The next morning when Stella looked out her window, things had changed again. Now there were people sitting on their front wall, ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Nola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
One day, Stella finds an abandoned bus outside her house with a hand-painted sign taped to it that says 'Heaven'. With the help of her multi-racial community, the bus is pushed into her front yard, cleaned out and refurbished. Even some local vandals are put to good use by painting a bright mural on the side. Before long, the bus is being used as a community centre where people can chat, read or play games. All goes well until a tow truck driver arrives with a council ordinance declaring that ...more
A really detailed little picture book about a little girl who, with the backing of her town, claims a dilapidated bus set for removal for their own. The text and pictures are very small, so this is more of a one-on-one type of book, but it's a sweet story. What's really interesting to me, though, is that through the amount of detail in the illustration, there's a lot of diversity represented in the depictions of the people in the town. There are gay couples/families, Muslim women in hijab, ...more
Danielle Tropea dess
Going solely off of the title of the book, I assumed that the theme and subject matter were going to be entirely different then how they had turned out. I assumed that the prominent theme would deal with death, and I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't take that road.
A little girl named Stella discovers a dilapidated bus that has seemingly appeared out if nowhere in the middle of the night. The bus has a sign on it that reads "Heaven." In this picture book by Bob Graham, readers follow Stel
Jun 23, 2013 Jessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Bob Graham, as I'm sure I've mentioned to anyone who has let me speak for even a moment about picture books, is awesome. This story is about a little girl who decides to transform a broken down hippie bus into a fun community center. The whole neighborhood comes together to create a fun, usable space for everyone to enjoy. What's nice about Graham is that he presents urban life honestly, showing the grit and grime of the city, and includes different races and cultures all living together. In the ...more
Meg Allison
Dec 31, 2012 Meg Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
No one else depicts an urban, working-class setting and characters in picture books today as authentically and whimsically as Bob Graham. He is the master, depicting humans in all their honest, real glory. Moms and Dads with tattoos, men with earrings, potbellies hanging out, working mothers with rocking hair, Graham captures them all. Don't let the word "Heaven" fool you - this book is all about community building and belonging. It belongs on the shelves of public schools all over, urban and ...more
I really liked the sentiment behind this book - that a community full of diverse people can come together around a common cause and make their world a better place. In Stella's town we see people of many religious faiths, as evidenced by their various religious garb (head scarves, yarmulkes, turbans, priest collars, etc.), and also of every color and age. Young and old, bikers and nuns, alike come together to create a community refuge inside of an abandoned bus dubbed "Heaven." The illustrations ...more
Stef Rozitis
I thought this book was long and complicated for preschool, more of an early primary years text with detailed pictures and complex themes. I was wrong in the sense that my pre-schoolers sat through it quite happily. There is a LOT going on in this book, it (like all Graham's books that I have read) has a very positive view of human nature with no real bad-guys and also looks at the social agency of children and makes it clear that children have something to offer society (and the environment). ...more
Xin Luan
Jun 09, 2014 Xin Luan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this story! This is a story about a bus called heaven. People find a bus without owner along the street, and then they move it out of the street and into Stella’s front yard. The adults began to clean things up, while some boys are painting the side of the bus. The heaven bus become a small community. Everyone brings something to donate to their new community center - one little girl brings her goldfish, a little boy donates his comic books, Stella contributes her table soccer game, other ...more
Karen Arendt
At first I did not pick up this book, thinking it had religious overtones. The story is less about religion and much more about a community coming together after finding a rusty old bus abandoned on their street. Pushing the bus back to Stella's house, the community begin to clean it up, gather together when before the bus appeared they did not, and put to good use some local teens who like to spray paint graffiti. Soft pastel illustrations with thin lines and the use of comic strip style boxes ...more
Penny Peck
May 20, 2012 Penny Peck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-ya
A thoughtful, joyous picture book for older children(ages 6-8), with lightly detailed cartoons by the author. A neighborhood sees an abandoned bus, and under the leadership of a little girl, turns the bus into a community center. There are many little things to see in the illustrations, which reflect a multicultural urban neighborhood. The narrative is straightforward and spare, with a subtlety that is keeps the story from being maudlin or overly sentimental. Yes, you can fight city hall and ...more
Sunday Cummins
Dec 30, 2015 Sunday Cummins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seriously - this is the kind of book that EASILY lends itself to student-led conversations of all sorts. This could be read aloud in kindergarten-first or read in small groups or with a partner in 2nd-4th. Critical thinking questions could easily be posed like, "What did the bus represent? In the beginning? The middle? The end?" or "Why was the bus important? What in the text and illustrations makes you think so?" and "What do we have in our community or our school that is similar to the bus? ...more
Dana Beyer
Am amazing book of compassion and a broken-down bus that brings a whole neighborhood together. It begins with a little girl named stella, who mobilizes her friends to restore the bus to a place where passer-bys can stop in to relax, be themselves and enjoy each other.. Could this come out of the fiction section into reality for the street where we live?
The nest of sparrows seems symbolic. The day after the bus is saved the baby sparrows fly from their nest in the bus. The eye was on the sparrow,
Feb 05, 2013 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
What if heaven was an unwanted, damaged bus? Would we all band together in harmony and build a peaceful, loving place? Could beauty and love make something ugly into something wonderful? Do we create our own sort of heaven on earth every day with how we act and react? Well, this book hints at these concepts. It would be wonderful to live in this world. The way I see it, it never hurts to teach our children, even abstractly, that the simple act of caring is one of the most important things we can ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a book on working together, community
Awwwwwww...what an incredibly sweet book! Stella and her neighbors find an abandoned bus on the street. Stella has an idea that it will be theirs. So they spruce it up and turn it into a little community center. Things are going fine until the tow truck comes to cart it off to the junkyard. Stella comes up with a plan to save the bus. Humorous little details in the text and illustrations make this a fun read. It kind of reminds me of Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand, another book about a community c ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Tracie rated it liked it
One morning, a broken-down bus turns up in the street outside Stella's house. Stella and her neighbors work together to make it theirs. But when a tow truck arrives to tote the bus to the junkyard, Stella must find the courage to stand up for what she believes in.

This is a heartwarming story with lively illustrations that kids will love pouring over, but the tow truck conflict was too conveniently resolved for my liking. That's a minor quibble, though. It's a neat little book.
Ariel Cummins
A sweet, but very long picture book about a neighborhood that becomes a community when they rally to make an old bus a place to hang out and gather. Lots of working together and realizing that the people you see every day on the street could be people you spend time with.

Cartoony, detailed illustrations tell this very urban story.

Way too wordy for a story time, but kids who like books with a strong narrative element will be entertained.
Dec 12, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
A great book for schools!

An abandonded bus get a new home, a a variety of new purposes and brings a community together in this very urban, modern tale that feels like a classic already.

As community members donate items of comfort to the bus and it's visitors, I came across my favorite line.

"And Lucy lent her dog, Bear--for anyone who needed to just sit and pat something."

Review based on the UK Edition.

Jordyn Braun
Audience: This book would be great for K-3rd grade students to read, due to its pictures and relatively easy vocabulary.
Appeal: A Bus Called Heaven could be used for a multi-cultural lesson, or even a community lesson, for how to get involved in your community or relate to other people who may not be just like you.

Pre-class book
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

An Australian children's author and illustrator. His books include Max, which won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Gold Award, Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child, which won the Kate Greenaway Medal, and "Let's Get A Pup!" Said Kate which won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
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