The Animal Buses and the Lost Item

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The Animal Buses and the Lost Item
Author: Shiho Kotera
Specifications: ISBN  978-4591154717
32 pages
29.0 x 20.7 cm / 11.6 x 8.2 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 3+
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2017
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The “Funny Animal Bus” characters created and popularized by stationery and fancy goods maker Q-Lia, and subsequently turned into an animation series on Japanese TV, are here adapted to the picture-book form for the first time. The marvelously endearing characters are both animal and vehicle at the same time. In this story, young trainees still studying to become full-fledged buses that can carry passengers step up to deliver a lost item to its owner.

The central character is Fanfan—a young panda bus. He may be a bit of a scatterbrain, but he tries harder than anyone else, and he’s popular among his peers. As he heads to school each day, he vows to do his very best so he can become a fully qualified bus as soon as possible. At school, he and the other trainees study the rules of the road and practice on an off-road driver’s training course to get the hang of S-curves, uphill starts, and such. For today’s final period, they get to go out onto the regular streets for the first time, and when they pass by the transit center they find Dartan the elephant bus looking down in the dumps. One of his passengers left a round, slightly concave object behind, and he’s at a loss as to what to do with it. The trainees help him figure out that it’s a cymbal, and that it must belong to a member of the village orchestra he transported to the mountaintop concert hall earlier. Realizing somebody needs to deliver it back up the mountain before the concert is scheduled to begin, Fanfan tucks the cymbal inside his passenger compartment and dashes off. The other trainees follow close behind in case he needs help. The mountain road is an extremely difficult route, and Fanfan encounters various obstacles that slow his progress. The worst is when he starts across a bridge without realizing it has been washed away in the middle, and falls into the water. He fears all his efforts will come to naught, but then a hippo bus rescues him from the water and the other trainees find another route where the bridge is intact. They help him up the final steep climb to the top by pushing him from behind.

Thanks to his friends’ help, Fanfan delivers the cymbal to its distraught owner at the concert hall just in the nick of time. To the villagers’ delight, the show can go on, with even the animal buses joining in on stage.