Thursday, November 22, 2007
Kids should bee-hive themselves - Children's books on bees for the California Nut Festival
By DAN BARNETT
The annual California Nut Festival, centered in Chico, takes place Feb. 16-23. Sponsored by the Far West Heritage Association, stewards of the Chico Museum and Patrick Ranch, the focus is on "bees and almonds."
In addition to mall walks, lectures, almond blossom tours and museum exhibits, discussion groups are being formed around the "city-wide" book "Letters From the Hive" ($14 in paperback from Bantam Books) as well as several children's books selected for the occasion.
One of those books, "The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive" ($5.99 in paperback from Scholastic), part of the Magic School Bus science series, offers youngsters busy pages full of colorful drawings (by Bruce Degen) and a simple but beguiling story line (by Joanna Cole). Ms. Frizzle's pupils (they call her "the Friz") embark on an extraordinary field trip to visit a beekeeper. Along the way their school bus turns into what looks like a hive; the children all resemble bees.
"'We'll have to visit flowers and get bee food in order to gain entrance to the hive. Follow that bee!' shouted the Friz."
And that is the start of a tale that includes a bear, a beekeeper and a queen bee that "lays up to 1,500 eggs per day." "Eggs-cellent!" shouts one of the students.
The last two pages of the tale give readers a reality check. One butterfly remarks, "This book shows bees making honey in a few minutes. It actually takes them many hours." Then there's a bug chorus at the end: "And this book shows insects talking in words." "Anyone knows we can't do that." "We can't?" "Aw, shucks ..." "We'd better be quiet, then."
"Buzzing Bumblebees" ($5.95 in paperback from Lerner Publishing), by Joelle Riley, uses close-up color photography and simple text to chart the life of a bumblebee. The book also includes a "hunt and find" exercise that encourages readers to look for eggs and more in the photographs.
Finally, "Hooray for Beekeeping!" ($7.95 in paperback from Crabtree Publishing), a Bobbie Kalman Book, uses photographs, drawings and short narratives to show the parts of an apiary hive and to explain how honey is extracted and why migratory beekeepers are becoming popular. The bees' round dance shows how near the food is, and the "wagtail dance" shows its direction. There's even a recipe for a "sweet and sticky apple sandwich."
Just remember, money can buy a lot, but (to rip off a line from Rocky and Bullwinkle), the bee stings in life are free!
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.