The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter

by Shabazz Larkin (Author)

The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A LOVE POEM FROM A FATHER TO HIS TWO SONS, AND A TRIBUTE TO THE BEES THAT POLLINATE THE FOODS WE LOVE TO EAT.

"Sometimes bees can be a bit rude. They fly in your face and prance on your food." And yet... without bees, we might not have strawberries for shortcakes or avocados for tacos!

Shabazz Larkin's The Thing About Bees is a Norman Rockwell-inspired Sunday in the park, 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, "how not to get stung," and how the things we fear are often things we don't fully understand.

Shabazz Larkin made his picture book illustration debut with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, followed by his author/illustrator debut with A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food, both named American Library Association Notable Children's Books. He is a multi-disciplinary artist and an advertising creative director. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons. SHABAZZLARKIN.COM.

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$19.99

Kirkus Reviews

This paean to bees is just the ticket for moving kids from concern to comfort . (Picture book. 3-7)

Copyright 2021 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with Permission

Publishers Weekly

Starring an affectionate family and a whole lot of bees, Larkin (A Moose Boosh) offers up a sparkling celebration of necessary pollinators, which begins with an explanation of how they work, overlaying images of strawberry blossoms with childlike drawings of a bee: "The bee moves pollen from one flower to another./ Then we wait.... and presto! The flower turns into a fruit you can eat." Subsequent full-bleed spreads, "inspired by the techniques of... Kehinde Wiley and Norman Rockwell," show a family of color interacting with the insects out of doors. Bees "can be a bit rude," the text reads as a father and two sons leap comically from their chairs, and sometimes they sting. But, Larkin explains, without bees, "there'd be no more smoothies with mango./ There'd be no more strawberries for shortcake." Loving bees is like loving his children, who "sting, / when you're in a bad mood" but are always deeply beloved. Imaginative and playful, Larkin's images of the family's encounters with bees and the fruits and vegetables they help produce helps them understand the role of pollinators--and provides stylish entertainment. A guide to bee species and instructions for avoiding stings are included. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

- Winner, Growing Good Kids Book Award, Junior Master Gardener Program & American Horticultural Society - Best Picture Books 2019 List, School Library Journal - Best Children's Book of the Year 2018, Bank Street College of Education's Children's Book Committee - Highly Commended Title, Charlotte Zolotow Award 2020 - CCBC Choices," Cooperative Children's Book Center - Capitol Choices 2020 *Best Picture Books 2019*

"Larkin spins a buoyant monologue to his young sons about why bees are so important and how they are analogous to rambunctious children; the narrative is threaded with unconditional love for both subjects. Hand lettering, bold coloring, and textural, mixed-media artwork add energy while evocative language makes for a spirited and joy-filled read-aloud.—School Library Journal

*Starred Review* "A holistic—and wholly original—treatment."—"Starred" review, School Library Journal

"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 insets by explaining how they are integral to the creation of their favorite fruits... 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."
—Booklist

"Starring an affectionate family and a whole lot of bees, Larkin offers up a sparkling celebration of necessary pollinators... Full-bleed spreads, 'inspired by the techniques of... Kehinde Wiley and Norman Rockwell, ' show a family of color interacting with the insects out of doors... Imaginative and playful, Larkin's images of the family's encounters with bees and the fruits and vegetables they help produce helps them understand the role of pollinators—and provides stylish entertainment."
—Publishers Weekly

Larkin, a father of young children and a profound melissophobe, dug into the dizzying variety of bee species and the roles they play in the global food web, all in order to ease his own fear and avoid passing that fear on to his children. The result is a sweet, gentle picture book that, with Larkin's playful, abstract art, can inspire a sense of wonder and respect for nature's buzzing buddies. Be sure to check out the 'How Not to Get Stung' chart at the back.
—Civil Eats

Larkin delivers a love poem to bees and his children... This paean to bees is just the ticket."
—Kirkus Reviews

A sweet, funny read-aloud to share with the ones you love, even better if it helps to assuage any fears and to build appreciation of bees.
—BayViews, The Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California

"The Thing About Bees is a fun read and filled with important lessons —for kids and adults, about how essential bees are to the food we love to eat! This book will spark the curiosity in every child to learn more about the power of pollinators."
—Nona Evans, Executive Director, Whole Kids Foundation

This is a book of sweet whimsy that can start conversations about courage, the interconnectedness of all living things, and the way that scary, difficult creatures can also be lovable. It's a love letter from a father to his two sons as well as a primer on must-know facts about bees. So much accessible wisdom packed into one children's book!
— Anne Fishel, Ph.D., Director, The Family Dinner Project; Director, The Family & Couples Therapy Program, Mass General Hospital

"The Thing About Bees is sweet as honey and lyrical as a song. Larkin takes the stinging fear out of bees as he connects pollinators with raspberries for pancakes, picnics with watermelon, and the strawberry heart love of a father for his buzzing kids. This book is perfect for any kids who, like mine, fear bees and want to understand why they exist."
—Anna Mulé, Executive Director, Slow Food USA

Kids and bees can be rambunctious, but of course we need them both. Larkin's playful father-son story gathers up the sweetness of life with unconditional love.
—Javaka Steptoe, Winner, Caldecott Medal, Radiant Child, Coretta Scott King Award, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall

"The Thing About Bees helps frightened children face their fears of these pesky critters and explains why we need bees, all in the context of a delightful family romp. With this empowering book in hand, kids will get more comfortable sharing the world with bees and appreciate the science of pollination."
—Dr. Claire A.B. Freeland, clinical psychologist & co-author, What To Do When Fear Interferes: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Phobias

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780998047799
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Readers to Eaters
Publication date
August 01, 2019
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV002140 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Insects, Spiders, etc.
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV005000 - Juvenile Fiction | Boys & Men
JUV023000 - Juvenile Fiction | Lifestyles | City & Town Life
JUV057000 - Juvenile Fiction | Stories in Verse (see also Poetry)
JUV029010 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | Environment
JUV043000 - Juvenile Fiction | Readers | Beginner
JUV039200 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Manners & Etiquette
JUV055000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nursery Rhymes
JUV050000 - Juvenile Fiction | Cooking & Food
JUV015000 - Juvenile Fiction | Health & Daily Living | General
JUV063000 - Juvenile Fiction | Recycling & Green Living
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
JUV017140 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Father's Day
Library of Congress categories
Fathers and sons
Picture books
Bees
Pollination by bees
"Growing Good Kids" Book Award
Winner 2019
School Library Journal
2019 Best Picture Books
Bank Street College of Education's Children's Book Committee
Best Children's Book of the Year 2018
Charlotte Zolotow Award
Highly Commended Title 2020

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