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The Boy who lost his Bumble

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A little boy loves his garden, and especially the bees there-enough to name them and keep a diary about them. Rain and wind cause the bees to lose "their bumble" and drives them away; and although the boy tried everything he could think of to bring them back, they do not return. The boy feels lost and empty without the bees. Nothing he tries can fill the void they left. Being stuck inside during winter makes things even worse. When hope is nearly gone, things outside begin to brighten and warm, leading the boy to feel less empty; until lo and behold, one day he heard a "bzzzzzzz" and "he got his bumble back!" Esberger's brief tale could be confusing to youngsters-with only one day of rain driving the bees away and the seasons quite compacted. The childlike drawings are winsome and appealing, capturing the boy's devotion to these insects, through the books and paintings depicted on his walls and his attempts to lure them back. The mostly sunny palette with gray overtones helps convey the boy's feelings. A two-page appendix offers more information about bees and the environment. Certainly this could be successfully used to explore the seasons, life cycles, and feelings, with adult interpretation. -- Peg Glisson * Children's Literature * PreS-Gr 1-In this tender introduction to the cycles of nature, a boy loves his garden, particularly the bees. He joyfully observes and journals their preferences and habits. Then one day, it rains. "And the clouds began to rumble....It was so wet, even the bees lost their bumble." The accompanying illustration shows them flying away. It continues to rain, then snow, and still the bees do not return. The boy unsuccessfully tries to lure them back by singing "Rain rain go away" in a bee costume and erecting a "bee hotel" with free Wi-Fi. Eventually he retreats to his room which is covered in drawings of the bees. Then spring arrives. Flowers bud. The boy starts to feel better and on a wordless page, viewers see the bees return. The story finishes with a cartwheeling boy and the words "...he got his bumble back. Perhaps bumbles always come back." An appendix provides simple information about bees; where they winter, why they are important, how they are in trouble, and how humans can help. The words are spare and sometimes lyrical. Text dances on the page in a clear and cheerful way. Illustrations are whimsically childlike and slip in sly humor. The sunny colors of the summer contrast effectively with the dull grays of winter. VERDICT The sweet bees in this story may help children be less frightened of them. -- Amelia Jenkins * School Library Journal * A little boy who loves the bees that visit his garden becomes concerned when rain and then snow drive them away.The unnamed boy loves flowers and trees, "but most of all, he love[s] the bees." He keeps a bumblebee diary, naming each bee and describing it (Amir "likes pink flowers"; Bob is "very fuzzy"; Seb "loves dancing"). He is distressed when it rains and the bees "los[e] their bumble." He dresses in a giant bee suit and opens a "bee hotel" with "free Wi-Fi" to lure them back, to no avail. It's even worse when the snows come, and he is stuck inside. His devotion to the insects is evident in his pictures on the wall and his bee-focused library. Happily, when spring comes, the bees return, and the boy "[gets] his bumble back." Esberger's forms resemble Oliver Jeffers' in their childlike appearance, and her sunny palette modulates to gray when the rain drives the bees away [...] the boy is a sweetly likable character, and his strength of focus is entirely believable. An appendix provides bumblebee facts, including the importance of bees to pollination and threats to bees. Children are often afraid of bees; this unassuming book may well soothe those fears effectively. (Picture book. 3-5) -- Kirkus Reviews

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