Head of the Herd

“Gus, the Dinosaur Bus,” by Julia Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn; Houghton Mifflin, $12.99, 32 pages, ages 4-6.

“Gus, The Dinosaur Bus” Reproduced with permission from HMH Books for Young Readers © 2013 Julia Liu and Bei Lynn

Gus is not your average bus; he looks like an Apatosaurus in a scaly shade of green. This scaly version of Clifford the Big Red Dog transports eager city children to school. No one skips class when Gus picks them up. Like his canine counterpart, children love Gus, but adults don’t always love him back. Here, school officials can’t keep up with the complaints of dino-size potholes, busted roofs, and monster traffic jams, so Gus is given his walking papers. He can’t be a bus anymore, but Gus manages to find a new job that makes the children even happier than before. Julia Liu writes in simple yet engaging text, creating a nice rhythm for the story. Bei Lynn’s wooly watercolor and acrylic illustrations recall a mid-century, classic esthetic.