cover image The Bee Who Spoke: The Wonderful World of Belle and the Bee

The Bee Who Spoke: The Wonderful World of Belle and the Bee

Al MacCuish, illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Thames & Hudson, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-500-65027-1

MacCuish’s (Operation Alphabet) story, created as part of a branding campaign for French skin-care company Melvita, introduces Belle, a Parisian girl described with romantic enthusiasm (“Belle loved the city and the city loved her. She knew its alleys and avenues, its rhythms, noises, colors and people by heart”). On Belle’s family’s annual summer holiday in the French countryside, the talking bee of the title teaches her about the wonders of the natural world, the way bees pollinate flowers so that humans can eat delicious food, and the symphony of all of nature working together. “We are one and we are all,” sing a troupe of insects and animals. “Or we’re nothing much at all.” Gibbon’s (Papa Is a Poet) retro illustrations are full of 1960s cheer. Her most fetching images are small still lifes, including ones of the contents of Belle’s knapsack (penknife, pencils, camera, croissant) or a breakfast derived of foods dependent on pollination. The sophisticated listeners most likely to be captured by the book’s tone, however, may find its moral lesson flatfooted. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)