I generally like to write about at least three picture books in a KidPages post. I think it makes it nice for those of you who want to read the books to be able to pick up several at one time from the hold shelf. But I recently realized this self-imposed "rule" was actually making me write about fewer books because it required more of a time commitment. And there are so many good books I want to talk about! So from now on, expect to see more single reviews of picture books on this blog (or until I decide that's not working very well either).
Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier was one of those rare books that took no warming up to. It didn't require multiple readings to endear itself to me. It didn't even take multiple pages. In fact, I can tell you the exact moment when I said to myself, This book is a treasure.
The book begins with Bear, who says, "I'm hungry." He spies a beehive and exclaims, "Mmm . . . Honey!" Bee, who is flying close by, asks, "Would you like some honey?" Bear says he would love some, "But what about the bee?" It is at that moment the reader realizes poor Bear has never met a bee before. It was also at that moment I realized this was far from the run-of-the-mill friendship book I was expecting.
Bee investigates a little further and finds out that Bear thinks bees are big monsters with large teeth and sharp claws. Bee points out that Bear is big with large teeth and sharp claws. Bear jumps to the irrational (and hilariously funny) conclusion that he must be a bee!
Things are finally resolved, and in the end, this story does in fact turn out to be about friendship. But it is much more than just that. It is about misconceptions and the danger of preconceived ideas. It is about keeping an open mind and not judging too quickly. It was a message I could appreciate and relate to since I have made many false assumptions about people based on my first impressions of them. It was also a story Bradley (2.5), Maxwell (almost 4), and Aaron (5.5) could all hear and enjoy and apply.
I honestly thought it might be too simple for Aaron (or at least appear that way to him). The text is so sparse and the illustrations are so delightfully juvenile. But he loved it. In fact, after I finished reading it, he immediately sat back down on the bed and read it again to Maxwell. I think the moment in the story I already mentioned ("But what about the bee?") caught him by surprise as much as it did me. Everything about the situation was just so funny, and if there are two things Aaron loves from a story, it's surprise and humor.
I also love that this will be an easy book for us to return to when one of us is having a difficult time accepting something new. I can say something like, "Remember Bear? He had no idea what a bee was. And once he found out, he was really happy to meet one. Maybe we should __________ [say hi, try this new food, go down the slide, etc.]."
A book that is surprising, funny, has a great message, AND can be read in under three minutes?! That's a winner for sure.