Two die-cut cardboard worker bees accompany readers through an introduction to honeybees.
They are set into shaped holes in the cover and attached to the book with yellow ribbons, but subsequent pages give them no real place to rest or otherwise interact with the text, reducing them to glorified bookmarks. The bees speak to readers in the first-person plural, imparting basic information in a series of declarative sentences. Unfortunately, odd phrasing combines with oversimplification for a bumpy ride. “We fly from flower to flower spreading pollen dust,” for instance, both neglects the bees’ gathering of pollen as a foodstuff and adds the wholly unnecessary “dust,” mischaracterizing the substance. They do “a dance called the Waggle”—like the Charleston?—rather than a waggle dance, and its description is brushed in very broad strokes. In the hive, they “chew flower nectar”—a liquid and therefore unchewable—“to make honey” rather than performing the complicated enzymatic process that actually takes place. Dove’s illustrations depict an impossible hive (an old-fashioned straw one bisected by a branch) rather than a modern wooden hive or an actual feral nest. While most in the board-book audience are likely not to know the difference, to present them with vague, fact-adjacent information and active untruths for the sake of a gimmick that doesn’t work particularly well does them a disservice. If it’s too complicated to communicate clearly, don’t bother trying.
Buzz on by this one. (Board book. 2-4)