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Swarm of Bees

illus. by Rilla Alexander. 48p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316392822.
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PreS-Gr 2—Being mad is an honest emotion, and sometimes "It can feel good to be angry." In Snicket's latest picture book, a young boy with a wagon full of tomatoes is just that—angry. He incites a swarm of bees by throwing a tomato at a beehive. He and the swarm menacingly move throughout the town, "Swarm of bees! Swarm of bees! Oh no! You are so angry! What will you do?" until the swarm has spooked everyone, but has stung no one. Unsatisfied, the boy begins throwing tomatoes at everyone, reeking havoc. In a satisfying turn of events, and before too much damage is done, a beekeeper comes and calms the bees, and an adult comes and calms the boy leading to the realization, "It can feel good to be angry. It can feel better to stop." They find a better use for tomatoes with a big spaghetti feast bringing everyone together affected by the boy's ire. Snicket's dark humor permeates and pairs well with Alexander's bold color illustrations that highlight the angry, yellow, beelike antagonist, his red wagon of tomatoes, and the swarm of bees as they move through a blue and teal world done with stamp and digital collage. Readers will delight in finding hidden clues of what is to come. Overall this is a great lesson that sometimes we all have a bee in our bonnet, and it can affect others, but still comfort and redemption can be found.
VERDICT A buzzworthy book that tackles an often negated feeling in a bold new way.

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