Monday, January 8, 2018

Give Bees a Chance (Bethany Barton)



AuthorBethany Barton

Illustrator:   Bethany Barton

Target Ages:  4-8

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Publisher Summary:
What do you do when you see a bee?
a.  Flap your arms and run in figure eights.
b.  Dash inside and lock all the doors and windows.
c.  Pull out your industrial-size can of bug spray and aim for the stripes.
d.  Hold out your honey bear-shaped bottle, bow, and give thanks.
If you chose a, b, or c, then this book is for you!  (If you chose d, buy this book for your bee-phobic friends!)

Give Bees a Chance is for anyone who doesn’t quite appreciate how extra special and important bees are to the world, and even to humankind.

First Lines:  This is my best buddy Edgar.  We love all the same things—like board games, strawberries, dinosaurs, honey, and of course…bees!  
Except that I don’t really like bees. 

Memorable Lines:  Just approach a bee like you would a dog you don’t know.  Don’t get too close and don’t try to touch it.  Unless you're a flower, it should lose interest and fly away.  And if more people like you give bees a chance they might just have, well…a chance to make the world a sweeter place.

Evaluation: 
Give Bees a Chance goes beyond the typical juvenile non-fiction picture book I have read on bees.  I learned new information, like the fact that they’re 25,000 different kinds of bees and that honey is actually bee barf. (Still want some on your biscuit?)  Many key areas are covered like types of bees, their anatomy, their history, their honey-making process, and their vital contribution.  Despite the educational aspect, it reads like a fun picture book rather than a dull textbook.  

The illustrations are amusing and informative.  There is a journal-like feel with a handwritten text, carton-style sketch drawings, and comic-style panels—ranging from casual encounters with bees to close ups of their anatomy to a missing poster.

The story is written as a dialogue between a young protagonist and his fearful friend.  While the protagonist does most of the speaking, he is never seen on the pages.  The focus is on the friend who is afraid of bees after being stung by one.  The tone is often dramatic and humorous which is makes the informative aspects more engaging.

The language and presentation are child-centric, but the format is unique.  It is set up as an argument.  The fearful boy states an objection, his friend refutes it with illustrations, facts, and an extra dose of patience. (The author, Bethany Barton, has a similar book for spiders.)  As a case is made for why bees are not only beneficial, but also not malicious, his friend’s fears and misconceptions slowly diminish.

Many children (and adults) are apprehensive about bees, making Give Bees a Chance a perfect picture book for those who are mildly afraid or completely terrified.  It is entertaining and educational, ideal for the classroom or home reading. 

Activities and Extension Ideas:
  • Science:  Plant flowers and flowering plants that attract bees.  Many bee colonies are dying off.  Providing plants that do not use harmful pesticides help save them.
  • Learn more about Beekeeping:  Watch Youtube videos together or visit a local bee farm.  The more informed children are, the less likely they will be afraid.
  • Taste Test:  Sample different types of honey from raw to honeysuckle to Manuka.  Encourage the children to use describing words for the tastes.  For a class or large group, make a chart illustrating the number of children who chose each type as their favorite.
  • Internet:  Many bloggers have provided some fun and educational ideas, such as Suzie, Growing with Science, and The Tool Box.
For other great nonfiction book suggestions, visit Kit Lit Frenzy for the Nonfiction Picturebook Challenge.


Visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog for Perfect Picturebook Friday.



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