The Wheels on the Bus
- Moving parts keep babies entertained for ages
- Classic, repetitive children's song
- Cute pictures
- Only four double pages long
- Slightly disturbing ending
- QR code isn't worth using. The linked song goes so quickly that you can't play with the moving bits of the book.
The premise is simple enough. A town ruled by animals* has a well-utilized bus route. The narrator takes us through various aspects of the trip around town. Without giving too much of the plot away, we are shown the wheels, the wipers (hours upon hours’ worth of entertainment for my little girl), and the behaviour of anti-social youths who (apparently encouraged by their parents) seem to have mistaken the back seat of the bus for a jumping castle.
Finally the story takes us to its terrifying conclusion (or lack thereof). On the final page (SPOILER ALERT) we are told that “The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep, All day long!” We are not told why this is, and so we are left to infer. Further clues are provided by the spinning wheel, which controls the moving roundabout part of the picture. It took me a few reads to realise this, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t un-see it. The bus becomes stuck in an infinite loop on a never-ending roundabout! No wonder the driver ends up honking the horn all day long. He’s obviously been driven insane by his predicament. We are left to wonder, will they ever escape?
On the inside cover there is a QR code that takes you to an audio version of the song. We tried it once, but the pace of the song is such that I found myself madly turning the pages to keep up. From my daughter’s perspective, it took all the fun out of exploring the moving parts on each page.
The Wheels on the Bus board book may be short and have a slightly disturbing ending, but the hours of entertainment that the windscreen-wipers alone provide for my little girl earns it a place on my bookshelf and a regular spot in the rotation.
*Discerning toddlers, especially those familiar with The Gruffalo, may question why the mouse that rides past on a scooter isn’t hunted down and eaten by the fox, but that most likely won’t worry too many of them.