Today’s review is for Beep Beep Goes the Bus Driver, written and illustrated by Vincent Scala, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. It is scheduled to be released on September 28, 2013. I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was drawn to this book because of the wacky, cartoonish cover image. The style of it made me think of The Powerpuff Girls, of which I’m very fond. With big eyed animals, a smiling bus driver, and happy blue bubble letters the cover drew me in.
The story contained within is just as wacky and cartoonish as the cover. The bus passengers include a variety of anthropomorphic animals, such as a ballerina bear and a cat with hat and tie. They go on fantastically silly adventures, which even include a trip to the moon. I can see it appealing to energetic children, because the premise is a lot of fun.
Unfortunately Scala’s text leaves much to be desired. The book is written entirely in rhyme, a style that can be a lot of fun, especially when read aloud. But some of the rhymes feel forced. Worse, the meter is a disaster. When I attempted to read it aloud, I found the rhythm and accents within each couplet were rarely the same, making everything sound clunky and awkward.
On the other hand, his illustrations are pretty fun. He uses an Easter egg palette to color his cartoon outlines, giving the book a vivid and playful feel. In particular I liked the turtle named Gus and the fish named Frank. It’s a style that suits the story well. It’s also a style that I think children would like.
The book design is pretty sound. With so much going on in the illustrations, text is placed on facing pages. Each text page is colored with a hue from the illustrators palette. The choice of Ad Lib BT for the typesetting was perfect; it’s bold and a little off kilter, like the story itself. The text is colored and each time the words “beep, beep” appear, they are in a larger point and outlined to highlight them.
In the end I give this book 2 out of 5 stars. Even though there was a lot that I liked about it, I just can’t get past the poorly written text.