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Dreams and Jacket in Tatters

Based on the children’s book ‘Joe’s Bros and the Bus That Goes’

by Paul Kerensa

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the theme of bullying by looking at the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.

Preparation and materials

  • Note: this assembly is based on the book Joe’s Bros and the Bus That Goes by Paul Kerensa (published by SPCK, October 2019). You will need the passages from the book that are found in the ‘Assembly’, Steps 4 and 9.

    This illustrated book can be purchased at:


  1. Welcome the children and ask them to think of a situation when they have seen someone being left out. It may be that someone has been left out of a game, a friendship group or a school team.

    Ask the children to think about how they felt when they saw the person being left out.

  2. Ask the children to consider whether they have ever felt left out. How did it make them feel?

  3. Explain that being left out is not a new thing. In fact, people throughout history have had the same problem! One example is Joseph, whose story is found in the Old Testament part of the Bible.

    Explain that this is not the Joseph whom we hear about at Christmas, who is Mary’s husband. This Joseph is the boy with a colourful coat. Ask the children whether they have heard of the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Point out that Joseph had lots of brothers, and they picked on him.

  4. Explain that you are going to read part of a book called Joe’s Bros and the Bus That Goes, which reimagines the Bible story of Joseph in today’s world of buses and shops.

    Optional: i
    f the book is available, show it to the children.

    Read the following extract from the book.

    Now come and meet Joe, and his squillion brothers:
    Like Asher and Dan and Judah and . . . others.
    With SO many brothers, a big car was a must.
    So they took all their trips in their dad’s minibus.

    Dad just couldn’t help it: Joe was his favourite.
    ‘Choose a coat, Joe! And you know what, I’ll pay for it.’
    Joe’s brothers’ coats were all dark-grey, or duller,
    So Joe picked a jacket of every bright colour!

    Green sleeves, silver lining, blue collar, gold top,
    Black belt, chocolate buttons: the best in the shop!
    Joe’s brothers frowned at the coat’s fancy seams,
    Not helped, as they left, when Joe told them his dreams.

    ‘Hey, brothers – I dreamed that we had sheaves of wheat,
    And yours bowed to mine – like you knelt at my feet!
    And the sun, moon and stars, they bowed too – who’d have thunk?!’
    As he talked, the door closed, with a ‘pffft, beeeeep, clunk!’

    Joe’s jacket snagged on the minibus door –
    As the bus trundled off, his coloured coat tore.
    ‘Hey, guys, wait up! You’re my bros, that’s what matters . . .’
    But they’d gone. Joe looked down: dreams and jacket in tatters.

  5. Ask the children, How do you think Joe felt, left behind by his brothers? Sad? Lonely? Stuck? Out of ideas?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  6. Point out that this isn’t the end of the story! Things got even worse for poor Joe: he found a job, but he was picked on again, and ended up in prison. However, while he was in prison, others realized that he had a talent. Instead of sneering at him, people started to look up to him.

  7. Ask the children, Which of you has a talent?

    Point out that talents are varied. We might be good at football, singing, computing, being a great friend or something that we haven’t discovered yet. Everyone is good at something.

  8. Remind the children that everyone has a future ahead that we don’t know about. And Joe didn’t know about his . . .

  9. Explain that the next part of the story takes place when Joe is in prison. When the king has a weird dream, the king’s waiter remembers that Joe was great at understanding the meaning of dreams! Joe’s life changes when he realizes that what matters is what he is good at, rather than what other people think he’s bad at.

    Read the following extract from the book.

    Years later, a crazy dream bothered the king.
    Fat cows and thin cows – what did it all mean?
    The waiter said, ‘I know a man who can tell us!’
    The king’s finest carriage brought Joe to the palace.

    ‘Your dream,’ said Joe, ‘means seven years of good harvests,
    But stockpile or next seven years we’ll all starve –
    It’s important to store in a warehouse that’s large.’
    ‘I will!’ said the king. ‘Oh, and you’ll be in charge.’

    So Joe became boss of collecting the grain,
    For seven good years of nice crop-growing rain.
    The next seven years, the tractors went quiet . . .
    But thanks to Joe’s storage, all ate a good diet.

    A familiar bus came – Joe’s brothers were hungry,
    They’d not stored like Joe had, so travelled cross-country.
    But who was this helpful man giving them dinner?
    Their brother? Last seen in the bus’s rear-view mirror?

    They bowed, but Joe hugged them: ‘It’s me! I’m your brother!
    Just now with an apron of every bright colour!’
    The brothers, and sun, moon and stars, looked and smiled.
    But, above all, God loved what he’d dreamed for this child.

  10. Explain that this story reminds us that God knows what we’re good at and what his plans are for us. This means that sometimes, the things that happen to us may seem tough, but through them, we learn lessons that will help us in the future.

  11. Remind the children that if they are finding things tough, or if they see someone else being picked on, they should always speak to someone about it. No one needs to suffer on their own; there is always someone in school who is there to try to help.

  12. Remind the children that just like Joseph’s dad gave him the special gift of a coat, all of us have our own special gifts.

Time for reflection

Let’s all spend a moment thinking of all the things that we are good at.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let’s consider the things that our friends and family are good at.

Pause to allow time for thought.

When we think the best of people and are pleased about their talents and gifts, it makes us and them happy.

Pause to allow time for thought.

When we think the worst of people and feel jealous of their gifts and abilities, it can make us and them unhappy.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let’s go into the rest of the week thinking about what people are good at, and maybe even letting them know.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for making me ‘me’.
You know me so well, and you gave me skills and talents and gifts.
Help me use what I’m good at to help others.
And help me to help others when they need me.


‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, available at: (1.50 minutes long)

‘Great big God’ by Nigel and Jo Hemming (Vineyard Songs), available at: (2.51 minutes long)

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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