New ArtWorks mural to support Queen City Book Bank’s mission

A new mural designed by award-winning illustrator Loren Long will celebrate the Queen City Book Bank and Long’s newest book, “The Yellow Bus.” 

ArtWorks youth apprentices – local high school and post-high schoolers, ages 14–21 – and two teaching artists have started working to bring to life a scene from the book on a wall outside QCBB’s headquarters on Gest Street in Cincinnati’s Queensgate neighborhood.

“The Yellow Bus” tells the story of a forgotten school bus that finds joy and purpose in the most unexpected places and in the journey along the way. Long noted that the book underscores the transformative power of being in service to others.

Rendering of “The Yellow Bus” mural on Queen City Book Bank building.

The mural will depict the school bus traveling through city streets with a group of children on board as passengers. In a rendering, the driver is wearing a Cincinnati Reds ball cap.

ArtWorks described the project as a way to “celebrate the spirit of community and act as a reminder of opportunities for growth, promoting a sense of hope and resilience within the hearts of onlookers.”

The team of 10 apprentices will complete work on the mural in early August. ArtWorks and the QCBB have planned a public mural dedication celebration mid-September.

“We are ecstatic about this very special project with Loren, ArtWorks and Macmillan Publishers,” said Michelle Otten Guenther, CEO of the QCBB.

Supporting a love of reading through art

This mural project – one of several by ArtWorks this summer – underscores the mission of the Queen City Book Bank, a nonprofit that works with a range of community champions, such as ArtWorks, to promote literacy.

The QCBB supports tutoring, little free libraries and literacy outreach to families. The organization provides 10 new books to more than 30,000 under-resourced elementary students in the Greater Cincinnati area every year.

Partnering on the mural is a natural progression for Long, a QCBB board member and a Cincinnati resident for more than three decades. He has illustrated nearly 30 books and has appeared on “The New York Times” bestseller list 12 times. Works include “Of Thee I Sing” by Barack Obama and the “Otis” picture book series, now an animated television series on Apple+.

ArtWorks apprentices and the lead teaching artist talk to author Loren Long at the Queen City Book Bank mural site. (Photo by Phil Armstrong)

As part of this new partnership, “The Yellow Bus” will be the QCBB’s signature book for the 2024–25 school year. As such, the organization will distribute 3,500 copies of the book to children in its curated book program this September.

“The Yellow Bus” will be available June 25.

The public will have a chance to hear from Long and the ArtWorks mural team at the Wet Paint speaking event on July 11, at the 21C Museum Hotel in downtown. The mural will also be part of the Statewide Mural Recognition Program, created by America 250-Ohio as part of the nation’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2026.

“(The) simple, but profound, message (of ‘The Yellow Bus’) will set the tone for an inspiring year ahead,” Otten Guenther said. “This unique mural reinforces that by working together our community makes literacy a priority.”

Queen City Book Bank

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