The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
written and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin
Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Hardcover: $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 978-0998047799
Pub Date: August 2019
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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.
FROM THE AUTHOR
I HAVE A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT BEES
I wrote this book because I have a ridiculous fear of bees.
When my sons were born I didn’t want to pass my fear to
them, so I set out to discover all I could about the little buzzers.
I learned three things about bees. First, I learned that every living creature has a special part to play in the world, that includes you. Second, whenI learn more about a scary thing, the thing feels less scary to me. Third, I researched which bees and wasps are kind and which are kinda mean. I made a guide to help you see the difference, too.
It's brave to try to understand the things that scare us. Now, go be brave.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shabazz Larkin made his illustrator debut with FARMER WILL ALLEN AND THE GROWING TABLEand his author/illustrator with A MOOSE BOOSH: A FEW CHOICE WORDS ABOUT FOOD. Both were named Notable Children's books by the American Library Association. He is also an advertising creative director and multi-disciplinary artist, painting vibrant portraiture on canvas, typographic printing techniques and film. He is most known for his “Black Magic” collection, a series of portraits that capture the beauty of resilience in black culture. He lives in Nashville, TN. SHABAZZLARKIN.COM
*Starred Review* “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.”
—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.”
“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.”
“Larkin delivers a love poem to bees and his children… The playful tone set in [the] first sentence carries throughout this loosely rhymed book… This paean to bees is just the ticket.”
“This is a book that can start conversations about courage, the interconnectedness of all living things, and the way that scary, difficult creatures can also be lovable.”
—Anne Fishel, Ph.D., Director, The Family Dinner Project ; Director, The Family & Couples Therapy Program, Mass General Hospital
“A fun read and filled with important lessons —for kids and adults, about how essential bees are to the food we love to eat!”
—Nona Evans, Executive Director, Whole Kids Foundation
"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