Yellow Blue Bus Means I Love You

Yellow Blue Bus Means I Love You

by Morse Hamilton


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380733019
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2000
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: (w) x 7.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Morse Hamilton teaches fiction writing and literature at Tufts University. He was born in Detroit and grew up there and in Tennessee, where his family settled in the late 50s. While a student at the University of Michigan, he won a Hopwood Award for Writing. He holds a B.A. from Michigan and a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Mr. Hamilton started writing for children when he was the Writer-in-Residence (Bennett Fellow) at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. His first picture book, My Name Is Emily, was written in collaboration with his eldest daughter, Emily, then eight. His seventh picture book, Belching Hill, was recently published by Greenwillow.

Morse Hamilton has also written two novels for young adults, Effie's House and Yellow Blue Bus Means I Love You. The latter tells the story of Russian-born Timur Borisovich Vorobyov, alias Tim Boyd, who wins a scholarship to a prestigious New England boarding school. For his parents this is an American dream come true. Tim is not so sure. The school feels like an alien world. His clothes, his values, and his feelings all seem wrong, and he thinks of running away. Then one Saturday night at a school dance the girl of his dreams, Phoebe Sayornis, comes up to him and utters the magic words, "Yellow Blue Bus." The phrase sounds like the Russian for "I love you." Does she know what she's saying? Phoebe, so sexy, so American, becomes Tim's first love and his nemesis.

"I always begin with a character whose voice I can hear," the author says. "The plot comes afterward. Although Tim is not based on any actual boy, I am friends with several Russian emigres and their children. I've watched them cope with the opportunities and temptations of their adopted country. I hope the book makes clear that, despite Tim's trials, his intelligence and emotional balance will see him safely home-wherever his home turns out to be."

Two decades of teaching young adults, in high school and in college, have convinced the author that teenagers are smarter, saner, and more idealistic than we sometimes give them credit for. "I feel that faith confirmed by the popularity of such challenging YA novelists as Robert Cormier and Otto R. Salassi. Their examples encouraged me to aim my books at a young audience."

Mr. Hamilton is working on a new novel set on the Tennessee banks of the Mississippi River, near where he went to high school. When he isn't teaching or writing, he loves to travel, in this country and abroad. He has visited most of the fifty states, has traveled widely in Europe, and has led several student tours to the former Soviet Union. He is fluent in Italian, French, and Russian.

Mr. Hamilton's wife, Sharon, is the head of the English department at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have three daughters: Emily is now an elementary school teacher, Kate is in college, and Abigail is in high school. The Hamiltons live in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt


It was dark out. Timur Borisovich Vorobyov-it's too hard for Americans to pronounce, so let's just say Tim-was slip-sliding through the snow, trying to make it back to campus before they closed the doors to the dining hall. He was hungry-he was born hungry, but that's another story. His father, who thinks he's a funny guy, says he probably has one of those worms in his stomach (in Russian you say solityor).


That day Tim was practically starving because he hardly ever made it to breakfast and he'd already skipped lunch to 99 to the gym office to get a sports excuse so he wouldn't have to run the Daily Mile in a snowstorm, which they make you do up there even if you're hacking your lungs out. If Homer the Greek, the blind poet who wrote The Odyssey, had gone to this school, they would probably have told him, C'mon, big guy, no excuses, hustle them buns.

As soon as his last class was over-at 6:15, because at Aviary Prep they have two hours of classesafter sportsTim had run through practically a blizzard to get a box of throat lozenges from Cormorant's Drugstore on Front Street. His throat killed. He knew from experience that if he went to the infirmary all they'd do was give him an envelope containing six white pills that practically knock you out, so you aren't physically able to keep your eyes open in Ms. Snipe-Dowitcher's English class.

Snipe-Do was all right-for an English teacher-it's just that Tim was much better at math and science where you didn't have to spill your guts all the time or tell your secret beliefs to people you hardly knew. Around other people, Tim maintained a calm and cool exterior, butinside it was just the opposite.

His shitty Timex watch had stopped again, but he knew it had to be at least 6:39, and at 6:45 sharp they closed the doors to the dining hall. If you were, like, two seconds late, the obese Mr. Smew was there, on the inside, holding his digital watch in front of his fat, ugly nose and shaking his bowling-ball head. All Tim had had to eat that whole day was the box of shlurpy cherry-flavored throat lozenges his mouth was full of. He knows, by the way, that you aren't supposed to put them in your mouth all at once, but you don't know how hungry he was. Or how bad his throat hurt.

He remembers all this as though it happened yesterday, and not over a year ago. He was fifteen at the time and "emotionally reticent-he seems young for his age," as one of his teachers (Snipe-Do) said in her report home. Don't worry so much, Boris (his father) said. Would you rather be old for your age?

The town plow had been there ahead of him and made a roadway between steep banks of snow. From the lowering sky more snow was coming down in big, soft flakes that landed on your hot upturned face. The plow's engine was still grinding away somewhere on the other side of the hill. Her big throat never got sore. You could see her flashing lights swooping through the bare trees and on the sides of the white wooden houses, where most teachers and a few lucky girls got to live.

The smell of somebody's supper wafted on the evening air.

He stopped for a second at the top of Branch Lane to catch his breath and try to snap the snap on his brown jacket, which had fit fine the summer before when he was trying it on with his mom at Macy's, only now it was trying to strangle him. Also, his hands and wrists were freezing because nobody knew what had happened to his gloves (though suspicions fell on his roommate, one Freddy Coatsucker, about whom more later).

It was like in that poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," by the great American poet, Robert Frost. Tim loves this poem, probably because none of his English teachers ever tried to explain it to him. If they did, he wouldn't be able to stand it, probably.

He was standing there, with blocks to go before he ate,literally burning up with fever. The next morning they tookhis temperature, and it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40degrees Centigrade. The school doctor said he had psittaco-sis, which is like pneumonia, only worse. The nice nurse,the one who said, "Call me Ellie," stated that in the olddays before antibiotics, Tim's time probably would havebeen up. Then they would have had to get out the plowagain and dig a hole in the frozen ground Iso they could stickwhat was left of poor Timur next to Daniel Webster or oneof the other local heroes.

Then nobody would act like he was a wimp for saying he felt too sick to go to swim practice, since swimming was one of the few subjects Tim Boyd liked.

He was standing there in the semidark, trying to catch his breath and snap his snap, when in the house he just happened to be standing next to (fate?) somebody turned on their light. He looked, and Phoebe Sayomis, this girl who was in two of his classes-he didn't know her very wen, though-walked over to the window to get something. And she must have just gotten out of the shower or something, because she didn't have any clothes on.

When he breathed, which he had to after a while, it looked like he was smoking cigarettes.

I know what you're thinking: that Tim went there on purpose to peep in her window, but he didn't, I swear to God. He was just walking by-it's a shortcut all the kids take. When the light went on he did what any normal guy would do: look up. Besides, seeing someone naked isn't that big a deal for Tim Boyd, who lived for four years in New York City, the smut capital of the world...

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