A profoundly disappointing posthumous outing from a beloved author.

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BEES IN THE CITY

A breezy look at urban beekeeping.

In Paris, France, young Lionel receives a disturbing call from his hapless aunt Celine, who lives in the country: her honeybees are dying, possibly from a lack of dietary variety. In the disjointed adventure that follows, Lionel, a white boy, shares his worries with his neighbor friends Alice and Samir. While lunching on his apartment’s flower-filled balcony, Lionel realizes the honeybees might fare better in the city, where a variety of plants in window boxes and on balconies could add diversity to their diet. In a whirlwind, Lionel is off to collect signatures from his neighbors to approve the plan, a quickly jumped hurdle. The honeybees are installed on the roof and seem to thrive. In its haste to tell Lionel’s story, the book stumbles multiple times. Lionel suggests that honeybees do not fly far, but bees will fly up to 5 miles for nectar; unrealistically, honey is extracted just a few days after the sick bees arrive. The backmatter offers an odd mixture of highly specific beekeeping information and superficial facts, presenting both the laying rates of bees and a two-sentence overview of colony collapse disorder, for instance. The illustrations do not provide additional support. Celine is depicted by her hive in beekeeping hat and veil, while Lionel stands by her side bareheaded. All of the characters are depicted with the same pale-peach skin tone, from blonde Alice to dark-haired Samir.

A profoundly disappointing posthumous outing from a beloved author. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88448-520-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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