This Trio of Picture Books is the Bee’s Knees

Lynn: Although it’s not unusual for children to be afraid of bees, bees are struggling, and they need all the help we can give them. Winning over a new generation of bee protectors has never been more important. Happily, I’ve read a trio of fun picture books starring our stripey friends that should help the cause.

 

Bee & Me by Alison Jay

Bee & Me, by Alison Jay

In Jay’s wordless picture book, a little girl revives a bee who flies into her apartment. The bee returns again during a storm. The two become friends as the bee grows tremendously in size. The bee misses flowers, so she flies her human out to the country, where the pair gathers seeds to spread throughout the city. Winter passes, then spring, and the city erupts in flowers. The bee, now a queen, returns once more.

Jay’s imaginative illustrations make skillful use of panels to move the story along, and exquisite details reward careful inspection. The story doesn’t abide strictly by the facts, but Jay provides an excellent back-matter page that includes suggestions of plants and flowers that attract bees, tips on how to help them, and a reminder that bees shouldn’t be picked up or touched.

 

Give Bees a Chance by Bethany BartonGive Bees a Chance, by Bethany Barton

Appealing and fun, this book provides important facts in a clever way. The unseen narrator introduces we readers to her buddy Edgar, who is afraid of bees. Subsequently, each page provides a hive of bee facts that are sure to fascinate. Barton’s bright, cartoonish illustrations will provoke giggles and win over friends like Edgar. I especially appreciate Barton’s acknowledgment of kids’ fears and her reassuring tips on how to behave around bees to avoid being stung.

 

Please Please the Bees, by Gerald Kelley

Another new picture book underscores one of the important contributions bees make, especially to the lives of bears! Life is sweet for Benedict Bear. Every day he wakes up to enjoy the three jars full of honey that the bees have delivered. Benedict loves honey on everything from tea to toast.

Then one terrible day, Benedict wakes up to discover he has no honey because the bees have gone on strike. The bee negotiators show Benedict that he has been taking them for granted. The thought of no honey sends chills down Benedict’s spine, and he mends his ways. A little research reveals how to please the bees and the bear gets to work right away. Kelley’s watercolor illustrations pair sweetly with the simple, wry text. Kelley uses perspective to great effect so both Benedict and his tiny workers buzz with charm and humor.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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