Thing About Bees : A Love Letter
by Larkin, Shabazz

When a father takes his children to the park to play, they learn about the importance of bees and how children are similar to them.

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. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Larkin delivers a love poem to bees and his children. "When a bee and a flower love each other very much, a fruit is born." The playful tone set in this first sentence carries throughout this loosely rhymed book. Following an opening double-page spread about pollination, Larkin acknowledges that "bees can be a bit rude" and that, "worst of all, they do this thing / called sting. / OUCH!" But if they were gone, along with no bee stings there would be no watermelons, mangoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and more. Then he gets personal, reasoning that children share some characteristics with bees, even stinging "when you're in a bad mood. // But," crucially, "I never stop / loving / you." Accompanying the text is distinctive, motion-filled artwork that overlays line drawings with swaths and daubs of color. Using photos of himself and his children as models for his human characters, he presents two yellow-overalls-clad black children who variously look worried, astonished, and delighted. One close-up image, of a honeybee in a strawberr y blossom, is wonderfully tactile, little grains of pollen falling gracefully over a ripe, red fruit below. A closing double-page spread introduces three types of bees and three other stinging insects on a scale from "kind" to "kinda mean" along with a few points of "bee safety & etiquette." This paean to bees is just the ticket for moving kids from concern to comfort. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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