Kaia and the Bees by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Candlewick Press, 9781536201055, 2020 / Kaia y las abejas por Maribeth Boelts, ilustrado por Angela Dominguez, traducción de Georgina Lázaro. Candlewick Press, 9781536214130, 2020
Format: Hardcover (both English and Spanish versions)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture books
What did you like about the book? There’s so much I love about it! The image of Kaia’s worried face with bees buzzing around on the cover indicates that there will be some element of fear, but the bright yellow honeycomb endpages lighten the emotional element, and the combination of both capture the story inside so well. Kaia is generally brave, except that she is afraid of bees, and it doesn’t help that her dad is a beekeeper. The reader follows Kaia’s emotional roller coaster as she works to overcome her fear. Sometimes she avoids it completely, sometimes she is mad and ashamed of her fear, and sometimes she uses her family as support to step up to the challenge. When she does visit the hives, at times she feels exhilarated by hearing them buzzing, curious watching them, pride at how well she’s doing with her fear, but steps back again for some time when she’s stung. The variety of emotions that Kaia goes through, especially the description of her body “twisting inside” or “soaked with sweat,” not only strengthen the story, but also easily encourage discussion of a child’s feelings. In addition to the strong social-emotional elements being incorporated into an overall great story, readers learn a good deal about honeybees and beekeepers. I also like the fact that Kaia is biracial with a black father and a white mother, and the story focuses on Kaia’s relationship with her dad.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? A lot of readers would enjoy this book. It’s a solid social-emotional book to discuss feelings, especially fear, and would be a good read-alike to Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. It’s also a great fiction book for kids who like nonfiction animal books and especially want to learn about honeybees.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts
Date of review: April 11, 2020