Douglas Florian. UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2012. 29 pages.
Often, parents have to choose between picture books that engage their children’s curiosity and imagination and those that are scientifically accurate. With UNBEELIEVABLES, Douglas Florian has given us a book that is both. The poems are pithy, cleverly written, and mercifully vary in their line length and rhyme pattern. Kids’ books of poetry written in the same cookie-cutter style can get a bit tedious after the fifth reading, when you know you’ve got multiple pages to read in exactly the same cadence. Florian mixes it up nicely, which is much appreciated.
The paintings are fantastic as well–anatomically accurate when they have to be, but full of whimsy and imagination. Most of them are pretty enough to frame, and they all help you and your child visualize what the author is describing.
Each set of two pages has a poem describing some aspect of bee life (“Bee Anatomy,” “Worker Bees,” “Pollen,” etc), a painting showing the subject, and a short paragraph filled with facts about the subject. Parents can choose whether to read the informational paragraph verbatim to their kids, incorporate it into the discussion of the paining, or just wait until their old enough to read it for themselves. The book also has a bibliography and suggestions for further reading, should your kids’ curiosities be piqued.
I really liked this book, and I’m going to pick up some more of Florian’s work. If it’s anything like UNBEELIEVABLE, the entire family is in for a treat.