Begin with a Bee

Univ. of Minnesota. May 2021. 40p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781517908041.
PreS-Gr 4–Beginning with a simple question on a stark black-and-white page, “What’s inside this hole in the ground?,” authors Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and Phyllis Root, and illustrator McGehee collaborate in producing a beautiful book on the life cycle of the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee. Vivid woodblock illustrations on every page begin with winter scenes of kids playing with snowballs or one very red fox persevering through a snow-packed woods while the small queen bee—“her tiny body (not even an inch)”—waits underground to create a colony of bees. Sparked by leading questions, the rhythmic narrative describes the solitary queen’s year as she emerges from the ground in spring, searches for flowers to nourish the eggs that she lays, and feeds them until they mature into female worker bees. These bees toil all through the summer and fall to sustain the queen as she continues laying eggs. Bright purple, blue, and red flowers come and go until the winter when the queen, alone again, goes underground to hibernate as “Seeds drop. Snow falls.” A one-page summary provides more information about this species and other bees, and a list of “Ten things we can all do to help” outlines individual actions and group project websites.
VERDICT This stunning introduction to an endangered bee native to North America belongs in every collection.

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