Axle Annie and the Speed Grump
By Robin Pulver
Illustrated by Tedd Arnold
About the book:
Axle Annie, Burskyville’s best, most beloved school bus driver, has a big problem. And that problem has a name: Rush Hotfoot. He is an absolute menace- always in a hurry and in a bad mood, driving full blast. He even ignores the bus’s stop-sign arm! But if anybody can tame the speed grump, Annie can. She has both hands on the weheel and nerves of steel.
Children will giggle and cheer for this friendly, silly charmer about the kind of superhero they might see every day.
About the author:
Robin Pulver has written many books for children, including Axle Annie (the first book about the best-ever school bus driver), Nobody’s Mother is in Second Grade, Punctuation Takes a Vacation, Christmas for a Kitten, and the Mrs. Toggle books. She lives in Pittsford, New York. Read more about her on her website: www.robinpulver.com
Do you know what it means to be a reckless driver or a menace on the road? What behaviors might you see someone do who was not a safe driver? Can kids ever be reckless with their bikes?
Questions to consider:
- Compare Rush Hotfoot’s driving to Axle Annie’s.
- Why do kids like Axle Annie so much?
- Describe Great Gulping Gulch Bridge.
- What does “bearing down fast” mean? Can you give an example?
- Do you ever notice people doing silly (even reckless) things while driving?
- Why did Annie visit the Grump Club? Did it help?
- Explain how Rush ends up with a ticket.
- What happens to Rush on the Great Gulping Gulch Bridge?
- Do you think it was safe for Annie to help? Should people help others even if it puts them in danger? What can someone always do in an emergency that is helpful?
- What consequence does Rush face for his actions? What did he learn?
Research or brainstorm the five most important rules in the following areas: bus safety, bicycle safety, and playground safety. Then, write the rules in the simplest words that you can and illustrate them. Post these rules where everyone can refer to them or give presentations to younger classes in small groups about safety.
Take a brief safety survey of at least ten people on the following questions and then graph the results:
Do you wear a seatbelt every time you’re in a car?
Do you wear a bike helmet each time you ride?
Have you ever had an accident?
Study the pictures that Tedd Arnold created for Axle Annie and the Speed Grump. You’ll notice that each picture is created from a different perspective or angle (just like a photographer decides how to frame a picture). Some are close-ups, others are wide views and a few are from top or bottom! Now, study the illustrations you created for the language arts project and redraw at least three of them from different angles. Try a close-up or a wide angle. Explain why you picked the perspective that you did in a short paragraph on the back.
Sing this song about the book to the tune “Home on the Range”
Oh give us a break
For Axle Annie’s sake
And the kids who ride her bus too
Don’t gulp, shave or pluck
You could hit a large truck
And we might not be there to save you!