Give Bees a Chance

illus. by Bethany Barton. 40p. ebook available. Viking. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670016945.
Gr 2–5—Barton employs the same style as in her award-winning book I'm Trying To Love Spiders, but this time bees are the topic. Readers are introduced to Edgar, a slightly thumb-shaped boy with a curlicue of hair. Edgar doesn't like bees, mainly because he doesn't want to be stung. The narrator tries to convince him of the insects' good qualities, yet Edgar continues to fret about their stingers and venom sacs. But facts about how long bees have lived on Earth and how they pollinate flowers and produce honey start to amaze Edgar. When he learns about dwindling bee populations, he decides that planting some bee-friendly flowers and keeping peace with them are pretty sweet alternatives to being frightened. The comical pen drawings with pastel-colored backgrounds, created using Adobe Photoshop, are visually pleasing. Childlike print in various sizes adds pizzazz, and the overall look is attractive. Barton explains that she has taken liberties with her bees, as they have only two legs in most of the illustrations instead of six. (The endpapers offer a more accurate depiction of different species.) Given the number of unloved animals and insects, Barton has an endless supply of subject matter to continue this refreshing, fun format.
VERDICT A must for the lighter side of nonfiction. A great way to introduce bees to elementary students.

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