Review of Kaia and the Bees

Kaia and the Bees
by Maribeth Boelts; illus. by Angela Dominguez
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
3/20    978-1-5362-0105-5    $16.99

Kaia knows that she should appreciate bees, and she would if she weren’t so scared of them. It doesn’t help that her apiarist father cares for two hives on the roof of their apartment building. Wanting to appear brave, Kaia brags to other kids as though she were the building’s beekeeper until an actual passing bee lands on her arm, sending her into a state of panic — and exposing her to her peers: “‘You’re a liar!’ Marcella says.” This embarrassing situation jumpstarts Kaia’s courage, and she asks her dad to let her help with the bees. A subsequent sting and Kaia’s feelings about it drive home the points that being brave is hard work and that overcoming a very deep fear takes time. Warm mixed-media cartoon illustrations depict a loving (biracial) family in a cozy urban home where greenery flourishes both inside and out. Bold outlines convey Kaia’s large emotions, while the narrative intersperses basic facts about the lives and work of honeybees. Though Kaia’s bee sting was scary but not, for her, life-threatening, a note on the copyright page reminds people to “seek immediate emergency treatment if unusual or severe symptoms develop.”

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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