Books about kids tackling a problem and succeeding are always a hit at my house. In Bees in the City, Andrea Cheng tells the story of Lionel, a little boy living in a Paris apartment, who convinces his neighbors to help the city’s bees. He spends the summers tending bees with his Aunt in the countryside and she tells him that the bees have been dying. “What can we do,” he asks. He returns to his apartment building, which looks whimsically a bit like a beehive when an idea flies into his head. These fun phrases pepper Cheng’s storyline in a playful way. Then, their mission begins – to ask all the residents if they can keep bees on the roof. It isn’t easy, but they get the support of everyone there and soon bees are buzzing around the building’s window boxes, pollinating their flowers. Cheng celebrates the diversity of those living in a Paris apartment building by including neighbors from all over the world. And the bees celebrate too by creating “Around the World” honey made from everyone’s gardens. The airy watercolor illustrations are evocative of Paris and Sarah McMenemy’s use of bright bursts of color in her images is striking. The swirling paths of bees across the pages lend a sense of motion and excitement to the story. Finally, the “Honeybees and Urban Beekeeping” section at the end of the book has some great information on bees, bee keeping and bee gardening. Bees in the City is another of Tilbury House’s lovely books about nature. Others I’ve enjoyed include Before We Eat: From Farm to Table and My Busy Green Garden, which I recently reviewed and wrote about along with this book as part of an article about bees for the Horn Book’s Family Reading Blog.
Suggested Ages: Preschool listeners will enjoy the bright illustrations and a story about a familiar backyard animal. Elementary students will be attracted to the can-do attitude of Lionel who makes a difference in a big city. Those interested in learning more about bees will appreciate the inclusion of the section at the end.