Written by: Angela Giroux
Published in 2012
Grade Level: 2-5
Funny Things I Heard at the Bus Stop: Volume 1 is a collection of six short stories written from the points of view of children in elementary school. Each story is narrated by a different person and there is no real underlying theme tying them all together.
Since all of the short stories are completely different, I will address each one individually.
While not officially one of the stories, the prologue was possibly the best part of this book. The author really brought about memories of walking to school, meeting friends along the way and telling stories. This great introduction was a perfect set up to lead into an excellent book. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was not so great.
Story #1: The Last Napkin
As the first story (not including the prologue) in this book, “The Last Napkin” was a disappointment. This story outlines the life of a napkin, from the factory to the store to the house. I think this story had a lot of potential, but the execution was lacking. While it was somewhat creative, it seemed like the type of thing I might have written as an assignment in high school english. I found it to be thorough, but boring.
Story #2: A Visit From Nonna Esmeralda
This story was much better than “The Last Napkin.” I found myself engrossed in the story, expectantly waiting to see what would happen next. In this story Aidan and Hayden meet their maternal grandmother, Nonna Esmeralda, for the very first time. When Nonna Esmeralda arrives at their home she passes out special gifts from around the world to the entire family, and Aidan gets a very special gift that will help him travel the world. This was my favorite of the six stories, but it felt more like the first chapter in a book than a complete short story. I think this is an awesome concept and could really be developed into a great chapter book or series.
Story #3: My English Teacher is a Secret Agent
In this story, Buddy’s english teacher is out of school for awhile and is replaced by a mysterious man. After a few strange incidents, Buddy and his friend Willy decide that the substitute must be a secret agent. I did somewhat enjoy this story, but I felt like the ending was abrupt and needed more closure.
Story #4: The Mysterious Window
In this story, Samantha and her family are going to visit her Uncle Sam to help him around the house because of his broken leg. While visiting, Uncle Sam teaches Samantha and her brother Lewis how to use the “Mysterious Window” to see things more clearly. This was a well rounded short story, but it contained so may grammatical errors that it was difficult to enjoy it.
I have to be honest… I am writing this review as I’m reading… and at this point all I can think is “When will it end‽” (And yes, I just used an interrobang. I don’t know if it will show up on WordPress… but I’m hoping it will!)
Story #5: My Summer Vacation – What a Ride!
In this story, Peter is asked to write about his summer vacation. Most of the story is made up of his essay, with a short introduction and ending thrown in. The essay is mainly about Peter’s attempts (almost all of which fail) to appear tall enough to ride a roller coaster. This was another well rounded story, with fewer grammatical errors (though there were some) to ruin the experience.
Story #6: Frazzle Berries
In this story, Mopsy Monkey goes on a journey to find frazzle berries for her mother. Along the way she meets some friends, and she ends up sharing her frazzle berries with them. In the end, her mother is proud of her for sharing. I found this story to be boring and somewhat babyish.
Final Thoughts: Funny Things I Heard at the Bus Stop: Volume 1 is a book that has a lot of potential, but it really needs to be edited and refined before it can be considered good.
The premise of this book is excellent: a collection of stories overheard while waiting at the bus stop. The prologue, which in my opinion was the best part of the book, sets this up perfectly. Unfortunately after that it all goes downhill. First of all, most of the stories in the book don’t even sound like stories from the bus stop. There is no unifying theme, other than the fact that they are told from the points of view of children (and one monkey). The children mentioned in the prologue (the author lists all the children walking to the bus by name) aren’t even mentioned in the stories. I felt like the book would have been much more cohesive and interesting if the stories had been set up as being told by specific children on the bus route.
On to the stories themselves. Some were ok, others were boring. Some were complete, while others felt like they were just the first chapter in a longer story. Most of the stories were rather shallow, without much depth or character development.
Then come the errors. There were so many grammatical errors in this ebook. I almost hope that I was accidentally sent an early copy of the book that hadn’t been edited at all yet, because the number of mistakes was completely ridiculous. Ignoring the grammatical errors, there was also an error in the prologue. The prologue stated that were four stories in the book, when really there were six. All in all, the book was sloppy and it totally ruined any chance of enjoying the reading experience.
I give Funny Things I Heard at the Bus Stop: Volume 1 one star.
I received a free copy of this ebook through a LibraryThing.com Member Giveaway.