Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Buzzing about Bees

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

Psst! Bzzz! Buzz! Buzz! 

This week I was fascinated with bees. It started with an information story book about community gardening and then led to a search for more books about bees that I might share alongside this title – one book new to me and one that I have in my nonfiction read aloud collection.

Big City Bees written by Maggie de Vries and illustrated by Renné Benoit (published in 2012)

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That

I am a huge fan of the information story books that local author Maggie de Vries writes. I have often gifted these titles to my children, nieces, nephews and friends – love sharing stories about the natural world that are local, relevant and fascinating for children. This title – Big City Bees is a story about siblings Sophie and Matthew, who want to grow pumpkins in their community garden plot with Grandpa’s help. The children know that they need bees to help the pumpkins grow and worry that there won’t be any bees to find their pumpkin flowers in the big city. Grandpa takes them walking in the busy downtown streets looking for “big city bees”. They discover beehives atop a hotel roof and the story then shares all of the details of raising bees in hives.

We learn that bees are essential to the possibility of a pumpkin on a pumpkin vine. Each blossom (some male, some female) bloom for just one day. They must be pollinated by bees in order for a pumpkin to grow. My favourite page is of the two children crouched next to their pumpkin vines on a cold early morning before sunrise, determined to watch for the bees that might come and find their pumpkin flowers on the day that they will bloom. Oh the anticipation as the children wish, “Please come bees.”

The illustrations of the bees dusted with pollen are stunning – they look as if they are wearing gold sparkle. This story highlights both the importance of bees to the garden and the wonder of learning about growing things together in a family. With such a trend towards urban gardening in the city, this is an essential and timely title to share with children.

Follow this link to Maggie’s site to hear about why she was inspired to write this book. This title was inspired by Graeme Evans, who was both head of housekeeping and a beekeeper at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver. Yes – there really are “big city bees”!

Wanting some more information about bees led me to this title: Buzz about Bees by Kari-Lynn Winters (published in 2013)

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That


Organized in chapters with full of full colour photographs, labelled diagrams and many fun true and false quizzes, this book provides much information about bees. Parts I was particularly interested in:

  • a page with close up photographs detailing the differences between bees and wasps (yellow jackets)
  • a two page spread that explains (with step by step photographs), how to build a nesting box for orchard mason bees
  • information about colony collapse disorder and other reasons that bees are seriously endangered like parasites, shrinking habitats, pesticides, pollution and infections (bacterial, viral and fungal)
  • 10 ideas to “BEE the Change the World Needs” – ways to make a difference for bees – some I wasn’t aware of
  • this quote from Albert Einstein mentioned numerous times: “If bees disappeared, humans would have only 4 years left to live.”

I also pulled out a favourite title – The BumbleBee Queen written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne (published in 2005)

Lyrical text, detailed illustrations and additional facts shared on each page – this book about the life of a bumblebee queen reads like a information story book. I love reading this title aloud.

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 12/65 complete!

Garden themed Books

Division 5 is participating in the Growing Chefs program and learning all about growing plants, urban agriculture and the wonder of vegetables! Our windowsills are full of seedlings and we are indulging in many garden themed read alouds to learn more about the magic of gardens, growing and green. The following is a list of books that will be part of our reading:

The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne

An informative information story book that details the lifecycle of the Queen bee. Touches on hive life, pollination and human behaviour towards bees.

Deborah Hodge‘s Watch me Grow and Up we Grow (photographs by Brian Harris)

These books have special meaning as Deborah Hodge gifted them to our class when she visited in the fall! These books immerse us in the world of gardening and growing! One focuses on life on a small farm and the other looks at growing food in the city.

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering

 In Cement Land, the promise of a packet of seeds is huge admist the gray drab world. Highlights the magic of watching seeds transform into plants!

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

Can a package of flower seeds bring happiness and beauty to a family during the Great Depression?

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam lives in the city and nurtures a struggling garden into a majestic green world. The power of a garden to invade (in the best of ways) stark city life.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

We each need to do something to make the world a more beautiful place. Miss Rumphius spreads lupine seeds throughout the countryside and the resulting flowers have a transformative effect on everyone who stumbles upon them.

Westlandia written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Wesley creates Weslandia, his own civilization using the plants he grows from some mysterious seeds and the products he makes from them.

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long

Poetic text and beautifully detailed illustrations introduce us to the wonder of both familiar and unfamiliar seeds.

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

When Theodora’s Grandfather must leave his beloved garden when he moves to an apartment, granddaughter and grandfather create a beautiful garden from seed to flower through the power of art and love.