I have to say at the outset that I’m a massive fan of wordless books; now here is another to add to my list of must haves. Pictures, when done by a first-rate illustrator such as Alison Jay, are an incredibly powerful story medium, equally as eloquent as words and sometimes more thought provoking. ‘Why is a bee buzzing into an apartment of a city block?’ and ‘Was it attracted by the floral curtains at the window beside which one of the residents, a girl, sits reading her flower book?’ are two questions that come to mind immediately one starts reading.
Buzzed by the bee, the girl’s first instinct is to seize a swatter and whack the bothersome bee, but at the sight of creature seemingly imploring her to desist, she grabs a tumbler and upends it over the bee instead; then off she goes to consult a suitable book, prepares a sugar solution, feeds the animal and releases it out of the window. ‘Farewell bee,’ she probably thinks to herself. A thunderstorm follows and back comes the bee looking decidedly damp. The girl takes him in and thus begins a friendship (there’s a brilliant spread showing the developing relationship and the bee’s growth which the girl measures carefully) that’s full of adventures that take the two of them into the city, then soaring over the countryside and back again. Back, having collected and dispersed some of the bounties of the meadows that eventually bring beauty and happiness to the city’s human residents, and a habitat for insects.
In addition to the girl/bee friendship, a human friendship develops too – between neighbours – the girl and a boy living above her in the same apartment block. And if that’s not enough, there are numerous incidental stories to be imagined from the glimpses of other people’s lives that we see through the windows of the flats and below in the streets.
There are words however, after this gently humorous tale has finished: the final page is one of ‘BEE AWARE!’ information and helpful hints on ‘bee-ing’ friendly that concludes with a warning: ‘Don’t try to pick up the bees, though – they just might sting you!’
What a wonderful celebration of nature.