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|Thing about bees : a love letter|
Author: Larkin, Shabazz
A love poem from a father to his two sons, and a tribute to the bees that pollinate the foods we love to eat. Children are introduced to different kinds of bees, taught how "not to get stung," and how things we fear are often things we don't fully understand.
Kirkus Reviews (08/15/19)
School Library Journal (+) (00/10/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2019 PreS-Gr 3—In a holistic—and wholly original—treatment, Larkin spins a buoyant monologue to his (actual) young sons about why bees are to be valued and how they are analogous to rambunctious children; the narrative is threaded with unconditional love for both subjects. Smart ABAB rhymes propel the narrative, while other lyrical structures offer pauses and maintain attention: "Sometimes bees can be a bit rude./They fly in your face and prance on your food…. /And worst of all, they do this thing/called sting./OUCH!" Opening sequential panels present pollination as a love story between bees and flowers that yields fruit. Then, action-packed family scenes—"choreographed" by the artist and composed in layers—follow the African American trio as they interact with the insects, a kite, a balloon, and one another. Hand lettering, bold coloring, and textural and compositional variety (painted-over receding backgrounds; thick brushwork; and inked, figural outlines behind decorated silhouettes) add to the energy. Through child-friendly delights like "picnics with watermelon" and "smoothies with mango," readers will understand what the world would be missing without bee intervention. While an author's note explains that information helped him work through his own issues with bees, his conclusion speaks to universal fears: "It's brave to try to understand the things that scare us." A final spread presents a continuum of bees (by degrees of meanness), along with safety tips. VERDICT Pair with Bethany Barton's Give Bees a Chance to experience persuasive calls to bravery and bee lovefests.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/01/2019 In this beautiful exploration of what bees mean to the world and what his sons mean to him, Larkin seeks to alleviate a child's fear of these insects by explaining how they are integral to the creation of their favorite fruits. The singular illustration style combines a relaxed painting method with an overlay of childlike drawings to create scenes bursting with color, action, and moments of humor. The beginning of the book explains the importance of pollination before correlating his sons' behavior to that of bees—scary things that cause him trouble—while also paralleling his experience of his children to the fruit he loves. Though young readers might be confused by that juxtaposition, the Guide to Bees at the end, rating them from Kind to Kinda Mean, provides the type of engaging information older picture-book readers enjoy. The gorgeous artwork featuring a family of color, a simplified exploration of entomology, and a note from the author about seeking to understand things that scare us help to make this book a solid recommendation for picture-book collections. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.