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The Children's Bookshelf: Amos McGee Misses the Bus - December 27, 2021

Amos McGee Misses the Bus written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead is a lovely continuation of their Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee. That first story is about a gentle Zookeeper who tends to the Zoo animals when they get sick and in turn benefits from their collective care when he gets sick.

When the second story begins the reader sees poor Amos McGee having a very bad night because he is so excited about taking the animals on an outing the next day. He can’t sleep, he’s late for work, he misses the morning bus and he loses his best hat as he struggles to walk the whole way to the Zoo.

The illustrations at the Zoo show the animals quickly responding to Amos McGee’s need for rest. When they find him having fallen asleep they all get busy. The penguin holds a sign that says OUIET, the elephant starts sweeping the sidewalk, the rhinoceros makes sure the smallest animals get something to eat, the owl takes over instructing zoo visitors about animal conservation and the tortoise finds the lost hat! When Amos McGee wakes-up he is refreshed and ready to take his animal friends on the afternoon bus to their planned outing which is not revealed until the final page.

The gentle illustrations, using woodblock printing and pencil, are full of messages of kindness and responsibility. Young readers will respond to the softly colored pictures, the expressions on each animal’s face and the bond of love between the animals and their caretaker.

Amos McGee Misses the Bus written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead is a beautiful book to share with children 3-6 years of age as they start the new year (Roaring Brook Press, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Amos McGee Misses the Bus

Study the illustrations and answer the following questions. Who finds Amos McGee’s favorite hat? Who finds his lunch box? Which animal finds a beach ball? Who carries the umbrellas while standing at the bus stop and waiting for the afternoon bus? Why does Amos McGee change into his shorts and eventually sunglasses? Where do they all go for their outing?

Have you ever been so excited about something that will happen the next day that you, like Amos McGee, could not sleep? Think about such things as the first day of school, a birthday party, a wonderful visit from grandparents or a trip to someplace special? How did such plans for the next day make you feel?

If you were to give each of the animal characters in this story a name what would the names be? Make up a name for each of Amos McGee’s animal friends: the penguin, the rhinoceros, the owl, the tortoise, the mouse and the elephant. Think about a name for each animal that fits each animal’s personality. Have fun!

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.