Get on the Bus! by Lucretia Brattin
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart caught my attention when I saw the cover. My sister and I have a desire to turn a school bus into an RV after we retire from teaching. We think we will travel around the country and have lots of adventures. I’m always on the lookout for stories in which characters do this sort of thing because in my mind it seems like the perfect way to explore.
Coyote and her father Rodeo travel around exploring the country in a renovated school bus. Currently, many families travel full time around the country with their children and explore in renovated busses or RV’s. In my part of the country, RV’s are sometimes a family’s full time home. What used to be unheard of, is now a new normal. So, it doesn’t seem unrealistic that a girl and her dad are doing this. The description of their bus makes it seem very cozy. Also, their adventures seem to imply that family can mean who you are with and not just who you are related to biologically. That implication is also very relatable to most people. Coyote and Rodeo let the needs of others guide their adventures as they work their way across the country.
Coyote and Rodeo are nomads without fear. They are truly determined to help their fellow man no matter where that journey takes them. Travelers in their bus include a mom and son, an older gentleman and a wayward girl. If you have lost your faith in humanity, and need to see that good guys still exist, then this is the book for you. They love their fellow life travelers!
Even with the joyfulness that you feel toward these characters, one thing a reader has to remember is that a happy-go-lucky persona can be masking pain. Gemeinhart does such a good job inserting nuggets of joy, that the sadness will sneak in when least expected. It caught me by surprise as I was reading the book, on a school bus, with students headed to Washington D.C. this past summer. If any fellow teachers with me happened to notice that there was an occasional tear, they know me well enough to understand many times I become emotionally invested in books. This was certainly no different.
Finally, love of family becomes apparent early on in this book. Gemeinhart hints that there is sadness surrounding Coyote’s family and that there is a longing for a far-away grandmother that is also felt by Coyote. Rodeo’s reluctance to acknowledge this pain caused me to have great empathy for Coyote. This lack of recognition that mental health is as important as physical health is a theme that is universal to many families today. Gemeinhart manages well with making sure family member’s roles in the plot are slowly explored in ways that the reader can begin to build a story and prepare for the ending.
I am a true Gemeinhart fangirl. I have liked some titles more that others, but I’m never disappointed. I read aloud The Honest Truth last year. My sixth grade loved it! I read aloud to my students every day and this year I’m beginning with The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. I know this too will become a class favorite!
Lucretia Brattin is currently teaching 6-8 ELA in the Missouri Ozarks. Over her 26 year career, she has also taught 1st grade, 4th grade, and High School English. She was her school’s librarian for 6 years also. She works with her students to help them discover their favorites so that they can become lifelong readers. Lucretia blogs about writing, reading and teaching at mrsbrattinreadsandwrites.blogspot.com and she can be found on Twitter @LucretiaBrattin.