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FLIGHT OF THE HONEY BEE

While hardly the only bee book available, this handsome, respectful volume deserves a place on the shelf

A New Zealand import describes a worker honeybee‘s scouting mission.

Naming his protagonist Scout for her current role in the hive, Huber delivers a present-tense narrative of her odyssey. It is fall, and Scout seeks its “last flowers.” Through winds and past a hungry black bird, she finds a “sea of flowers” from which she gathers nectar and pollen. A sudden hailstorm temporarily grounds her, and when she arrives home, guard bees are battling a wasp that’s attempting to rob the hive. Once inside, she does her waggle dance so her “sister bees” can find her meadow and harvest enough nectar to make honey for the winter. Running alongside the narrative of Scout’s day are supplemental facts about the science of bees (flying charges them with static electricity, attracting pollen, for instance), and a brief author’s note and index provide additional informational heft. The text at times strains under figurative language that’s not quite right—the bees “flick from the hive like golden pebbles”—but by and large, it succeeds in accurately dramatizing honeybee behavior. Lovelock’s full-bleed paintings, done in watercolor, acrylic ink and colored pencil, vary in perspective and scale, making the most of the autumn palette and refraining at all times from anthropomorphizing their subjects.

While hardly the only bee book available, this handsome, respectful volume deserves a place on the shelf . (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6760-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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