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Picture Book Review – A Bear, A Bee, and A Honey Tree

A BEAR, A BEE, AND A HONEY TREE

Written by Daniel Bernstrom

Illustrated by Brandon James Scott

(Hippo Park; $18.99; Ages 3-7)

 

A Bear a Bee a Honey Tree cover bear gripping tree near angry bee

 

 

Daniel Bernstrom’s A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree, a rhythmic read-aloud that invites multiple reads, takes children on a journey with a hungry, fuzzy brown bear and a hive of angry bees.

The brown bear is first introduced yawning and stretching at the entrance to his cave, awakening from hibernation. Illustrator Brandon James Scott’s humorous and expressive digital art portrays the bear and his surroundings with glowing and warm woodsy colors. The illustrations, paired with Bernstrom’s engaging alliterative wordplay, motivated me to turn the page to spend more time with these characters.

 

A_Bear_a_Bee_a_Honey Tree int1 bee honey
Interior spread from A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree written by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Brandon James Scott, Hippo Park ©2022.

 

The tree is filled with a honeycomb and lots and lots of busy worker honey bees doing what bees do best, passing the nectar to the house bee. Bernstrom’s words a bee, a busy bee, a honey bee next to the art visually showcase the bees focused on their work. That is until the brown fuzzy hungry bear discovers the gold and yellow bee hive up in the tree. And that’s where the playfulness of the words begins.

The bee eyes the brown bear who is staring up at the green foliage in the tree. The bee’s bulging black eyes and angry eyebrows show he is not happy when next he sees the bear’s bottom side hanging under those same leaves. The bear hangs from one branch and holds on to another while the bee’s angry eyes swirl around him. A busy bear and a busy bee. A cute little bird is intrigued watching the pair.

 

A Bear a Bee a Honey Tree int2 hungry bear
Interior spread from A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree written by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Brandon James Scott, Hippo Park ©2022.

 

When the bear’s paw is pushed into the hive, the bee is not happy. In fact, he is a very angry bee who lands on the bear’s nose, catching him with honey dripping from his lips. Bernstrom’s writing encourages each child to joyfully experience the words of the story.

The bear’s eyes are now the ones that bulge when the bee does what he needs to in protecting his honeycomb. The bee has brought in his colony. A million buzzing bees are drawn with angry faces swarming the bear who unwillingly succumbs by falling out of the tree. The hilarious chase ends at sundown when the bees return to their hive and somewhere a hungry bear returns to his cave.

 

A Bear a Bee a Honey Tree int3 a fretful bee
Interior spread from A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree written by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Brandon James Scott, Hippo Park ©2022.

 

This is a delightful picture book that, even with its spare text, teaches kids about bee and bear behavior with fun rhymes and rich, captivating illustrations that work together so well. Kids will ask to hear A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree over and over, a sure sign to keep the book close at hand.

  • Reviewed by Ronda Einbinder

 

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Taking Care of Bees-ness

These Bees Count is reviewed by Rita Zobayan. 

These Bees Count written by Alison Formento with art by Sarah Snow ($16.99, Albert Whitman & Co., ages 4 and up) is a delightful and informative read that teaches children about the lives of bees and how they are important to plants and people. It’s also a counting book.  (Notice the clever double meaning of the title.)

                  We join Mr. Tate’s multicultural elementary school class as they go on a field trip to the Busy Bee Farm, where Farmer Ellen teaches students the ins and outs of a bee’s world. The typical concerns and questions that children have regarding bees are cleverly interwoven into the narrative of the book.

                  Eli held onto Mr. Tate. “Bees sting.”/“Only when they’re afraid or angry,” said Farmer Ellen. “And beekeepers always dress for safety before visiting the hives.”

                  Amy knelt to watch a bee on a clover blossom. “Bees sure are busy.”/”Yes,” said Farmer Ellen. “And without bee pollen, crops wouldn’t grow, and we wouldn’t have food to eat.”

                  The middle section of this 32-page book focuses on the bees as they buzz around the meadow, describing their activities and counting their day away.

                  One by one, we zip up high, buzzing through the bright blue sky. We fly over two waving dandelions, inviting us in. We find three wild strawberries bursting with sweetness.

                  The students (and the readers) learn many things during their visit, including how pollination works, how nectar becomes honey, and how honey is extracted from the honeycombs. The information is written clearly and simply so that young children can grasp the concepts.

The book ends with “the buzz on bees,” which is essentially factual information. This section covers the role of bees in crop growth, the different “dances” bees perform, facts about hives and their inhabitants, different types of bees, and Colony Collapse Disorder.                 

                  Sarah Snow’s artwork is bright and detailed. It catches the reader’s eye and conveys the colors and images of a productive farm. By using the two-dimensional collage technique, Ms. Snow did a wonderful job of capturing the viewer’s attention and complementing the text.

                  These Bees Count is a great addition to a home or school library.  Click here for a helpful link to a teacher’s guide.

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