“Rebecca Rosanne and the Strange Bus,” Friend, Nov. 1991, 12
Rebecca Rosanne couldn’t stop following things. She followed the big brown garbage truck as it crawled like a giant beetle from dumpster to dumpster in the apartment complex where she lived.
She followed the gardener on his riding lawn mower. And she followed the letter carrier in his little white jeep with the red and blue stripes. But every time Rebecca Rosanne followed something, she followed it so far that she got lost.
“Rebecca Rosanne,” her mother would say, “when will you stop following everything that moves!”
Rebecca Rosanne would hang her head. She never meant to get lost by following things. But she was curious about trucks and jeeps and lawn mowers. She was curious about the letter carrier’s bag of mail.
One day Rebecca Rosanne was digging in the sandbox when a strange bus drove into her neighborhood. It wasn’t orange like the bus the older children rode to school. It was green and black.
Rebecca Rosanne was curious. She ran to the parking lot, where the bus had stopped. People lined up to climb the three tall steps into the bus. So did Rebecca Rosanne. When she looked inside, she was surprised. Instead of seats on this bus, there were shelves of books. She followed a boy to the back, where there were some picture books on a rack.
Rebecca Rosanne pulled out a book and sat down on the steps that led to the back door of the bus. She smiled when she turned to the first page. There was a picture of a letter carrier beside a white jeep with red and blue stripes. A picture on another page showed where the letter carrier got the mail.
Then Rebecca Rosanne found a bigger book about trucks. She was so busy looking at this book that she didn’t notice the other people leave the bus. She didn’t hear the driver close the front door and start the engine. Before Rebecca Rosanne knew what was happening, the bus full of books was gently swaying as it drove out of the parking lot.
When it stops at the next apartment building, I’ll get off, thought Rebecca Rosanne.
But the bus didn’t stop at the next apartment building. Instead, it drove onto the main highway and headed downtown. Rebecca Rosanne was scared. She had never followed anything that far before. Her stomach felt as if she’d swallowed a bowlful of cold, wiggly worms.
Finally the bus pulled into a driveway behind a red brick building and stopped. Rebecca Rosanne heard the driver walking toward the back of the bus. When the driver saw her, he said in a kind voice, “Well, it looks like somebody hitched a ride on the bookmobile.” He bent down and asked, “What’s your name?”
Rebecca Rosanne was still scared, but she told the driver her name.
“Well, Rebecca Rosanne, climb off the bookmobile while I lock up. Then we’ll go into the library and call your mother.”
While she waited, Rebecca Rosanne said to herself several times the word bookmobile. She thought that a bus full of books was even better than a garbage truck.
And when Rebecca Rosanne saw what was inside the red brick building the driver had called the library, she was even more pleased. Books were everywhere!
A woman behind a high counter smiled kindly, then said softly, “This must be Rebecca Rosanne. Your mother just called. A neighbor told her that she’d seen you climbing into the bookmobile. I’ll call your mother and tell her that you’re here.”
The driver led Rebecca Rosanne to a room with tables and chairs just her size. “You can wait for your mother here,” he said.
Rebecca Rosanne looked at a book about trains until her mother came. “Hey, Mom,” she shouted, “a book on the bookmobile showed me where letter carriers get their mail. And this one is about trains!”
When Rebecca Rosanne’s mother saw how excited her daughter was about the books, she helped Rebecca Rosanne borrow some from the library.
One day when they were looking at a book, Rebecca Rosanne said, “I haven’t gotten lost for a long time, have I, Mom?”
“No, not since you stopped following everything that moves and started following books,” she said, giving Rebecca Rosanne a big hug.