STARRED REVIEW
April 11, 2017

Bees on strike

illustrated by Gerald Kelley
Review by

Bears make the perfect storybook characters: curmudgeonly, routine-bound, honey-filled, with warm hearts hidden deep under fur and padding. Gerald Kelley’s charming Please Please the Bees joins the shelf of grumpy-bear-learns-a-lesson tales, and has a good reminder for gratitude and kindness in readers of all ages.

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Bears make the perfect storybook characters: curmudgeonly, routine-bound, honey-filled, with warm hearts hidden deep under fur and padding. Gerald Kelley’s charming Please Please the Bees joins the shelf of grumpy-bear-learns-a-lesson tales, and has a good reminder for gratitude and kindness in readers of all ages.

Benedict’s days are busy: errands, violin, knitting, bed, errands, violin, knitting, bee strike. Bee strike? Putting a honey-less damper on his day, the bees refuse to work, citing an unacceptable yard and deplorable hive conditions. Life without honey is flat-out miserable. But dry toast and an uncompromising bee might be just the motivation Benedict needs to clean up his self-centered lifestyle and overgrown yard.

Kelley thoughtfully tells his story with both words and pictures, injecting his simple narration with punchy, fed-up bee dialogue—these bees mean business. Benedict’s smashed violin and tangled yarn underline the honey-less dreadfulness, while Benedict’s furrowed brow lets us in on his earnest inner struggle. Warm, soft colors and detail-filled pages will keep eyes of all ages busy. Earbuds, sunglasses and a computer add a touch of modernity, while wind chimes and cozy quilts make Benedict’s world appealing and homey. Bee strike signs and raincoat-clad bees subtly add humor while underlining the stern message.

There is no lack of grouchy bear books, but there is always room for one that is cleverly told. Please Please the Bees is a good reminder for all of us: A little thankfulness and hard work—like a few jars of honey—goes a long way.

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Please Please the Bees

Please Please the Bees

illustrated by Gerald Kelley
Albert Whitman
ISBN 9780807551837

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