Larkin delivers a love poem to bees and his children.
“When a bee and a flower love each other very much, a fruit is born.” The playful tone set in this first sentence carries throughout this loosely rhymed book. Following an opening double-page spread about pollination, Larkin acknowledges that “bees can be a bit rude” and that, “worst of all, they do this thing / called sting. / OUCH!” But if they were gone, along with no bee stings there would be no watermelons, mangoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and more. Then he gets personal, reasoning that children share some characteristics with bees, even stinging “when you’re in a bad mood. // But,” crucially, “I never stop / loving / you.” Accompanying the text is distinctive, motion-filled artwork that overlays line drawings with swaths and daubs of color. Using photos of himself and his children as models for his human characters, he presents two yellow-overalls–clad black children who variously look worried, astonished, and delighted. One close-up image, of a honeybee in a strawberry blossom, is wonderfully tactile, little grains of pollen falling gracefully over a ripe, red fruit below. A closing double-page spread introduces three types of bees and three other stinging insects on a scale from “kind” to “kinda mean” along with a few points of “bee safety & etiquette.”
This paean to bees is just the ticket for moving kids from concern to comfort. (Picture book. 3-7)