Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, July 2, 2012

unBEElievables by Douglas Florian


honeybee poems and paintings by Douglas Florian

Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. 2012

ISBN: 9781442426528

All ages

This reviewer obtained a copy of the book from the local public library.

My favorite part of summer is sitting and watching bees visit the blossoms in my yard. Last summer I discovered their favorite plant was the catmint growing smack dab in the middle of my vegetable garden. There were so many bees collecting nectar that the tall purple spikes were waving as if being tossed about by a gentle breeze. I LOVE bees and who best to celebrate their wonderfulness is beloved poet Douglas Florian.

Each of the 15 poems gives details about a particular characteristic of our honeymakers.

'Bee Anatomy'

"Lovely legs,

Lovely hue,

Lovely long

Anennae, too.

Lovely eyes,

Lovely wings,

But ouch!

How in the end

It stings!"

Throughout, we learn the names of the different bees that populate the hive and their jobs: Drones, Workers, and Queen. Most of the poems have a bouncy rhyme, but two have a definiate rap feel to them.

Take 'Summer Hummer' for example:

"I’m the hummer of summer,

So busy with buzz.

A never-humdrummer

All covered with fuzz."

Florian’s bright paintings, done in gouache paint, colored pencils, and collage on primed paper bags that ooze warmth and happiness, accompany every poem, as does a short paragraph expounding on the facts highlighted in each poem.

Florian ends this glorious tribute with 'Where are the Bees?' a sobering note on the disappearance of bees due to mites, viruses, pesticides, or fungi. Scientists have named it Colony Collapse Disorder.

"Bees give us sweet honey,

They pollinate flowers.

The beeswax in candles

Keeps burning for hours.

But some hives have vanished,

Some bees disappeared.

(From mites or pollution

Or illness, it’s feared.)

Let’s hope that before long

The bees come back strong,

And hives will be humming,

Bees buzzing along.”

Overall, this is a wonderful introduction to bees for all ages. The tone is playful, joyful, and just plain fun to share. A perfect companion to The Hive Detectives by Loree Griffin Burns, Magic School Bus Inside a beehive by Joanna Cole, The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco, The Beeman by Laurie Krebs, The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi, and two of my favorite fiction titles A Hive for the Honeybee by Soinbhe Lally and a love story for teens, Kissing the Bee by Kathe Kola.

Have I made you hungry for a spoonful of honey?

1 comment:

  1. I'm buzzing with thanks, Cathy and Louise, for your bee-utiful review of my book. Yes, "Summer Hummer" does have a rap feel, as do "Drone," "Worker Bees," and "The Beekeepers."