KAIA AND THE BEES

Could be just the ticket for turning bee-phobes into beekeepers.

A young beekeeper goes from reluctance to enthusiasm with some coaching from Dad.

Kaia’s brave about almost everything—except for bees. This is a problem, because Kaia’s dad keeps two hives on the roof of their apartment building. Dad drones on and on about the importance of bees to the foods Kaia loves, but that doesn’t make Kaia want to go near them. However, Kaia talks a big beekeeping game with the building’s other kids—only to be found out when a bee landing triggers a public display of fear. Resolved to walk the beekeeping walk, a suited-up Kaia ascends with Dad to the roof, where up-close examination of a frame of bees softens the fear—until Kaia unwisely takes off a glove and is stung. The bee boycott resumes, till two bees accidentally enter the apartment on honey-harvest day, and Kaia bravely opens the window to let them out. Beekeeper Boelts infuses her narrative with both appropriate vocabulary and empathy. Narrator Kaia realistically articulates ambivalence: On the one hand, working the bees makes Kaia feel “electric”; on the other, bee stings hurt! For the most part Dominguez accurately depicts apiary equipment and practices in her friendly cartoons, and she peoples the story with a diverse cast not typically seen in kids’ books about beekeeping. Kaia is biracial, with a black dad and white mom.

Could be just the ticket for turning bee-phobes into beekeepers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0105-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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