From a tune to a tale: author connects with kids

It began as a jingle and wound up being the impetus for a children's Christian book series.

Author Sue Brockett has teamed up with illustrator Mike LaFond to create The Friendly Bus Series.

It began as a jingle and wound up being the impetus for a children’s Christian book series.

Looking back, author Sue Brockett shakes her head and laughs at the idea.

A Kent School District bus driver for 10 years, Brockett wrote a catchy tune, “The Friendly Bus,” specifically to keep her kids calm and orderly.

Did it work?

“I actually put it on tape and played it,” she said, “and the kids would go, ‘Oh, Mrs. Bee, please don’t play that again. It stays with us all day.'”

All good-natured threats aside, the song served its purpose, promoting safety, trust and cooperation.

In essence, it was a hit, a song later adapted to Brockett’s evolving book series, The Friendly Bus Series (CrossBooks Publishing). “Love and the Mystery of the Tripping Stick” published last year, is the first of a planned, nine-episode book series. The second book, “Joy and the Mystery of the Whoopee Cushion” has gone to print.

The stories instill a positive attitude, not only about riding a school bus, but in life itself.

Each book features multi-cultural students singing friendly songs of good advice on the school bus in a cleverly illustrated, rhyming story that’s Seussical in style.

“Every book has a theme, a main character who is given a problem and a specific character who deals and answers the problem,” said Brockett, 73, who has long since retired as a bus driver to become a full-time author.

Brockett’s Christian faith – and the Biblical passages of Galatians 5:22-23, which reveals the fruit of the Holy Spirit – are based in the books and tied to each character. Each story has its main characters, but the reader is introduced to characters who represent and teach a fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

“It’s been a lot of fun to work on,” said Kent’s Mike LaFond, the book’s illustrator. “It’s been fun to design.”

Brockett and LaFond collaborated on the design and nature of each nationality, all expressive and colorful characters. Such a process took five years.

“I feel completely blessed to have Michael,” Brockett said. “He’s so, so good.”

By word of mouth, about 300 copies of the first book were sold regionally. The hope is to reach a wider audience.

“We need to have a door open for us,” LaFond said.

Brockett and her husband, Dion, are retired and reside in Arizona. They lived in Kent for more than 20 years and raised three sons.

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CrossBooks.

To learn more, visit facebook.com/TheFriendlyBusStories.

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