Quill and Quire

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The Queen, the Bear and the Bumblebee

by Dini Petty, Rose Cowles, illus.

One day the Bear invites his friends, the Queen and the Bumblebee, to come with him to a magical land. There they meet the Prince of Night, who offers them three wishes. The Queen wishes for wings like the Bee’s so she can fly, and the Bear wishes to be a man with an extensive wardrobe. The Bee cannot decide what he wants to be despite his friends’ many suggestions. But when a beast named Growliss comes to attack, the Queen and the Bear find themselves powerless in their new forms: the Queen cannot intimidate him and the Bear can no longer roar. But the Bee is able to see the tiny weak spot on Growliss’s neck and sting him. The Bee then uses his wish to change his friends back into their own shapes when they all agree that “the best thing to do/ is be who you are.”

This is a charming fable about the value of being yourself and recognizing your own strengths. A particularly likeable character, the Bee is the smallest of the three and thus the one that children will most likely identify with. In well-known talk show host Dini Petty’s first children’s book, her rhyming text keeps the story bouncing swiftly along, although a few awkward breaks in the rhythm interfere with the flow when read aloud. Cowles’s vibrant illustrations are filled with motion and humorous details, particularly when the Bee is imagining his many options for a new “self.” This book will be particularly appreciated by children who are different in some way.