Meg adored that bus. It made her so happy. As we ended our day at a children’s bookshop in Vineyard Haven (that sadly has since closed), my sister bought Meg an amazing pop up book version of The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky, so she could remember her love of the Martha’s Vineyard bus.
That book has been a constant in our family from the moment my sister read it to Meg on the return ferry ride (I still remember an exhausted Clare screaming on the ferry as they read, “The babies on the bus cry ‘Wah, wah, wah.’”) to this very day. Initially Meg and I would read it during Clare’s nap time so Clare wouldn’t rip the book. Once Clare was old enough to be trusted, she joined in on the fun. When Anne came along, she fell in love with the book early, because The Wheels on the Bus was one of her favorite songs. Over the years, I kept thinking she would outgrow the book, but every few months she would pull it out and it would become our bedtime reading for weeks. Each night we read the book four, five or eight times.
Recently, Anne began yet another Wheels on the Bus phase. Our original book, however, was in sad shape. I realized that Anne had no memory of when the bus had wheels that would spin or when there was a rider who went out and in. While I will always treasure our old copy and all the memories it holds, I decided Anne needed a new copy of Paul O. Zelinsky’s The Wheels on the Bus.
Just before bedtime I handed Anne the new book. She initially thought it was the old copy. I told her, “This one has wheels that move.” I wish I had taken a picture of her face at that moment. Her eyes became huge circles of excitement. She insisted we immediately read the book.
Clare joined us for bedtime reading so she could see the parts of the book that she too had forgotten existed. When I read, “The mommies on the bus say, ‘Shh, shh, shh,’” Clare told me that I was to put my finger over my mouth as I read because that’s what I always did when I read it to her before nap time so many years ago.
It it is amazing that a single book holds so many memories for each of my girls...and for me. I know we will continue to treasure it for years to come. Anne will not outgrow it any time soon, considering her older sisters still seem to enjoy it.