cover image Bella & Bean

Bella & Bean

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, , illus. by Aileen Leijten. . S&S/Atheneum, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85616-7

Bella is a moody, obsessed poet: “Bonnets, daisies, windows, toes—/ Secrets hide in sky, in rose,” she writes. Her best friend (and fellow mouse), Bean, is an impulsive bundle of energy, eager to show off her new striped stocking cap embellished with two daisies, and annoying Bella with her interruptions. What starts off looking like a tale of mismatched friends turns out to be, instead, a splendidly accessible exploration of the poetic process as Bella finds Bean’s words seeping into her work. Leitjen (Hugging Hour! , reviewed above) draws readers in immediately with her offbeat whimsy. Bella, for example, is first glimpsed through the window of her house, a fairytale concoction of tiny bricks, shingles and turrets nestled among the roots of a tree, with paper lanterns festooned just beyond. Letters, words and images dance about the final pages as the two friends together compose a poem that proclaims their eternal bond. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)