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Book Reviews

Bee & Flea and the Compost Caper

by Anna Humphrey and Mike Deas (ill.)

Anna Humphrey’s Bee & Flea and the Compost Caper is a charming chapter book for eco-curious kids. This is the first book in a new series, and the story is simple and easy to follow. It’s a lovely day outside, but Bee is bored with pollinating flowers, finding it repetitive and unsatisfying. Then she encounters Flea, who is loud and often icky; they meet as Flea is using a straw to suck the blood out of a dog’s back! However, Flea is off to investigate trouble in the compost heap as the only agent of F.L.E.A. – the Fenced-in-Area Law Enforcement Agency – and Bee wants a change of scene, so she offers to help. She soon comes to regret her act of graciousness. Arriving at a pest-filled party on the compost heap, Bee is horrified to see it’s full of squirming worms and creepy crawlies pooping, slime surfing, and eating each other. Eventually, too disgusted to stay any longer, Bee storms off and slips into a wormhole, where she gets stuck. With no one to help her but some cheeky mites, Bee’s time alone clarifies the vital role of the compost heap. She now understands that each bug acts in a way that is crucial to the process, including her new friend Flea.

Humphrey deftly balances jokes, puns, and STEM tidbits – such as how different critters contribute to the compost becoming soil – within the story. The text is peppered with vocabulary-building words and bug trivia, all wrapped up in a silly package that will keep kids learning without the book feeling too educational. For instance, in one exchange between Flea and Bee, Flea offers up the information, “Did you know that houseflies upchuck on their food to soften it before they eat it?” 

Black-and-white drawings by Mike Deas appear on nearly every other page. The vivid illustrations, short chapters, and widely spaced font make the text less intimidating to reluctant readers. At the end of the book, a F.L.E.A. test gives kids a final chance to learn about the residents of a compost heap. This should be a big hit with primary school kids who like buddy comedies, bugs, and gross-out humour.


Reviewer: Rachel Rosenberg

Publisher: Owlkids Books


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 120 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-77147-420-7

Released: Apr.

Issue Date: June 2022

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 6–9