Friday, June 9, 2017
Bee & Me, by Alison Jay. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2017. $22.00 ages 3 and up
"It all started
when the bee
flew in through
was the same."
Wordless picture books are the 'bees' knees', aren't they? They tell an often complicated and sometimes disarmingly simple story with polish and power. They are perfect fare for little ones who are just learning how stories work, for older literate children who have the savvy to connect their lives to some of the events of the illustrated tale, and for children who are learning a new language in a new community. Wordless books show that stories are the same in any language; we each bring our many experiences to the 'reading'.
Our first glimpse shows a stark urban landscape, filled with people, buildings, means of transport. A turn of the page shows an apartment building, its inhabitants and the bedroom of a small girl who will soon run in terror from the large bee that has flown through her bedroom window. It is an ominous opening.
Armed with a swatter and a determination to rid her room of the interloper, she reacts to the its plea for life. Popping it under a glass, she looks to her book for advice and learns how to revive the bee from the stupor that resulted from a lack of air. A sweet drink does the trick. Once revived, it flies off.
A rainy night and day occasions a return for the bee, looking worse for wear and in need of food and warmth. The two become fast friends, enjoying each other's company as the bee has a growth spurt. He also longs for fields of flowers. Large enough now to carry his friend, they fly to the countryside. Once there, they gather seeds and sprinkle them along their flight path, say a sad goodbye and wait through winter and spring before seeing each other once more. The fruits of their inaugural flight are evident everywhere we look, changing the bleak urban landscape to one filled with spring abundance and brilliant color.
As this appealing tale ends, Bee Aware provides useful information about bees and how we can help them survive. So much to see, and absolutely worthy of your attention.