As the holidays draw near (where did the time go?), I am here to share reviews of some bee-themed kid’s books in my collection. A book (especially one about bees) is always a great gift!
Show Me the Honey, Author: Tish Rabe, Illustrator: Christopher Moroney
What is it about? Nick and Sally are out of honey! The Cat in the Hat (with some help from Thing 1 and Thing 2) saves the day by getting Nick and Sally into “Queen Pricilla Buzzoo’s Dance-All-Day Celebration.” There, Nick and Sally learn about the waggle dance, collect nectar, and make their own honey!
Is it scientifically accurate? Yes! The queen bee and her workers are all female, there are guard bees at the entrance of the hive, and the Cat in the Hat explains why the bees are dancing (to find food!) to Nick and Sally. The book also does a good job showing the reader how honey is made.
How are the illustrations? Fun and colorful. The images of inside the hive are colorful and full of patterns and hexagons.
What age group(s) is it good for? I have read this book to kindergarteners and they loved it! For reading on their own, this book is a “Step into Reading” book recommended for first to third graders.
The Big Honey Hunt, Author: Stan and Jan Berenstain, Illustrator:
What is it about? Like Show Me the Honey, this book starts with a common problem: the bears are out of honey! Instead of going to the store to buy more honey, Papa Bear takes Small Bear on a honey hunt through the woods. They follow a bee, run into a few mishaps along the way, and end up getting chased by bees themselves. In the end, Papa Bear gives in and buys more honey from what looks like a local farm stand near their home.
Is it scientifically accurate? Mostly! Papa Bear and Small Bear try to find honey by following a bee which is something beekeepers do to find feral beehives. This is called bee-lining. The possible hive sites Papa Bear and Small Bear investigate are also accurate—the sites are places where both bees and some of the animals the bears find would live. One thing that sticks out as not accurate to me is that Papa Bear consistently refers to the bee as a “he,” but the bee is likely a female.
How are the illustrations? Nostalgic. The images in this book are the typical Berenstain Bear images that I grew up with. Also, the fuzzy bee the bears follow is really cute.
What age group(s) is it good for? This book is also a “Beginner Book” that is good for first to third graders for reading on their own. Like Show Me the Honey, this book is also fun to read to kindergarteners. At the end when Papa and Small Bear get chased by the bees, I always explain that this is because the bears were trying to break into the bee’s home and steal their food. Don’t want to scare kids away from bees!
The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive, Author: Joanna Cole, Illustrator: Bruce Degen
What is it about? Ms. Frizzle decides that it’s a beautiful day for observing honey bees so she takes her class out to visit a beekeeper and his hives. In the process, Ms. Frizzle accidentally (on purpose?) hits a lever on the Magic School Bus that turns everyone into bees. Since they’re already bees, Ms. Frizzle decides to take her class into the hive to make their observations.
Is it scientifically accurate? Yes! The book starts with a small (yet accurate) lesson on insects in general. Ms. Frizzle even discusses social insects and their nests! The book talks about the different jobs of bees (guard bees, foragers), pollination, the waggle dance, honey bee development, honey bee predators, and more!
How are the illustrations? Accurate and fun. The drawings of the insects and the inside of the bee hive are all incredibly accurate and fun to look at. There are a lot of little details for the reader who likes to look at the illustrations.
What age group(s) is it good for? Kids who are comfortable reading on their own or just looking at the pictures. As a kid, this type of book was my favorite type of book. The illustrations are detailed and there are little notes and facts spread throughout. It’s the kind of book that a kid can read multiple times and find something new each time.
The Beautiful Bee Book, Author: Sue Unstead, Illustrator: Gill Tomblin
What is it about? This interactive book (lift-the-flap, pop-ups, etc.) is a fun book about lots of different bees, not just honey bees! The book takes the reader through bee development, foraging, nesting, and more. Also, the book discusses both social and solitary bees.
Is it scientifically accurate? 99%! There are a few minor details that are a bit off but I would definitely use this book to teach kids about bees. The book was originally published in London so some of the bees are only found in Europe (like the red-tailed bumble bee I saw in the UK) or are invasive here in America (like the wool carder bee that my lab mate studies).
How are the illustrations? If you’re an insect/bee person, adorable. The illustrations are accurate and convey the true fuzzy essence of bees!
What age group(s) is it good for? Kids that can read on their own a bit beyond the beginner level. For the most part, the type is large but there is some likely unfamiliar insect jargon. There is a nice glossary in the back. The lift-the-flaps make this a great book for a reader exploring the world of bees.
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, Author: Joyce Sidman, Illustrator: Rick Allen
What is it about? This book is a book of poems about animals in the wintertime; one of those poems is about bees! Other animals that appear in this book are foxes, bears, and swans to name a few. A small, more scientific paragraph about the organism of interest accompanies each poem.
Is it scientifically accurate? Yes! While I can’t speak on the accuracy of all the poems, I can say that the bee poem is accurate. The poem stresses how important it is for honey bees to work together and accurately describes what happens in the winter.
How are the illustrations? Beautiful and artistic. The illustrations convey a rustic, winter-y feel that as a New Englander, I love!
What age group(s) is it good for? Older readers—instead of one narrative, this book is different poems that may not hold the attention of a young reader.