Inspiring Young Readers
Baboo the Unusual Bee by Lliana Bird and Aysha Tengiz
This unusual picture book has an intriguing cover design that frames the jolly looking pink and black Bee with blue wings and red heeled feet. The comic book style design immediately appealed to my grandsons who also loved the front end cover with the sumptuously coloured array of garden flowers - surely a potential feast for any passing bee, whatever it looks like.
The lively story is told in verse and explains how Baboo the Bee shows an early talent for ballet, hip-hop and jive dancing. He is clearly different from the other bees in the hive and spends a lot of time dancing alone and looking sad. Eventually he plucks up courage to talk to a big bee, Ignacious who is very unkind in response and even encourages the other bees to reject him. But as he sits crying on a leaf Baboo meets a friendly green ladybird,Lee which makes him realise that there are plenty of other unusual insects about who also have trouble fitting in:
“It’s hard being different,” Lee said with a nod.
“The ladybirds I know all think that I’m odd.”
The two insects begin a rewarding friendship that builds their confidence and together they eventually make an impression on all the other creatures who gather to watch them dance:
“That green with that pink!
What a sight to behold!”
A rock- and-roll rainbow!
So bright and so bold!”
We particularly liked the pages that show how individuals have different and equally interesting physical features and talents. Who knew that an earthworm might be able to knit a scarf and that a caterpillar could play the saxophone? There is a lot of potential for classroom discussion here about valuing one another and recognising individuality as something positive.
We very much enjoyed this story which has a happy ending but we also spent time looking at and reading the back end covers that give some fascinating factual information about bees. By far the most impressive fact for all three of us was that the buzzing sound ‘is made by bees flapping their wings upto 230 times in a second’. Amazing stuff.
I strongly recommend this beautiful debut picture book by an award winning illustrator and author who is a writer, director, actress, podcaster and co-founder of charities Help Refugees and the Kindly Collective. It is published by Rocket Bird Books and should be available from your local independent bookshop. They will be glad to order it for you if they do not have copies on the shelf.