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BELLA & BEAN by Rebecca Kai Dotlich


by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Aileen Leijten

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-689-85616-7
Publisher: Atheneum

Bella, a poet, and Bean, a creative busybody, are best friends. Bean constantly interrupts Bella from “thinking of words” and composing poems, demanding that Bella look at her new hat and cute toes or help her plant a bush. “My,” says Bean, “Aren’t we grumpy.” Bean pesters Bella to leave her writing, but Bella resists until evening, when she begins to write about her friend. There are fine examples of metaphor, simile and wordplay scattered throughout: “The sky poured stars like sugar.” Eventually the twin themes of poetry and friendship unite as Bella and Bean collaborate on “a poem about us.” The two mice are wholly goofy-looking, with skinny legs and tails, thick whiskers and prominent teeth, and their personalities come across as stubborn and unappealing. The lessons about the process of writing and the compromises and joys of friendship overwhelm the slight story. Despite some lovely images and language play, the story doesn’t quite succeed. (Picture book. 5-9)