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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book, text by Patricia Hegarty and illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2017. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"Gathering nectar as she goes,
From every foxglove, every rose,
Dusty with pollen, the little bee
Buzzes, buzzes, busily.

Bee travels on from bloom to bloom,
Drawn in by their sweet perfume.

Harvesting flowers one by one,
Her compass is the midday sun."

I know that I have earlier posted my admiration for Britta Teckentrup's joyous, detailed artwork. In this book, a companion to last year's Tree (Doubleday, 2016), she matches her images to the rhythmic text created by Patricia Hegarty. Together, they show young readers the important role that bees play in our world.

The hexagonal window on the front cover is a delightful invitation to children to open to the book's pages and see what is going on inside. Cut paper collage explodes in brilliant color on every spread, and mixed media scenes beg attention for the many details included. The fields are alive with movement, light and texture. The tiny honeybee described in lyrical, carefully chosen words invites readers to share the many places and spaces that share the benefits of its flight.

"In the treetops, birds start to sing.
The little bee beats her wings.
As she travels here and there,
A gentle humming fills the air."

Outstanding care has been given to the production of this book. The cover begs a lingering touch, the die-cuts are much appreciated by young readers, and their senses are piqued by the attention given to the true beauty of nature. The role of honeybees cannot be downplayed. This is a perfect introduction for young children to their importance.

"As the bees fly on through buds and burs,
A tiny miracle occurs:

So many plants and flowers you see
Were given life by one small bee."

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