Florian (Poetrees, 2010, etc.) bestows yet another pleasing mix of punny poems and colorful collages that blend whimsy and fact.
The 14 poems introduce the roles of the queen, drones and workers and touch on such matters as anatomy, development from egg to bee, and even Colony Collapse Disorder. Spreads like “Swarm” epitomize Florian’s skill at combining pithy rhymes, well-chosen facts and playfully tongue-in-cheek pictures. “When it’s too crowded, then we form / A cloud of bees that’s called a swarm.” A three-sentence paragraph, offset in smaller type, explains why bees swarm, the role of scout bees and what happens after a new home site is found. The facing picture shows a veritable thunderhead of bees, dwarfing the sun and forest in its imperative to move house. Design is crisp: The text type, Neutra, sits in pleasing, contrasting colors against saturated pages of crimson, ochre-gold and grass green. Characteristically poking visual fun at facts, the mixed-media pictures present bees as cheeky girls and boys with red, kewpie-doll smiles. The queen sports a crown, scepter and cell phone, illustrating the couplet “My princely sons are known as drones— / Not one of those boys ever phones!” Meanwhile, those Belushi-looking bad boys slouch and smirk in chunky medallions and sideways baseball caps.
Florian shines again here. ("BEEbliography," websites for further inquiry) (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)