Picture Book Snob
So much love for Betsy Buglove!
Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees by Catherine Jacob and Lucy Fleming, Scholastic
My kids and I have fallen in love with Betsy Buglove, whose magical magnifying glass allows her to understand what insects are saying! When Betsy discovers that the tiny creatures she meets in her garden need help, she comes to the rescue with an ingenious plan. Betsy's efforts end up benefitting her entire community as well as making minibeasts safer.
As with all the best picture books, Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees contains a subtle lesson. It teaches children about the vital role of bees and why it's crucial that they and their habitats are protected. Betsy is an amazing protagonist who shows children that everyone can make a difference no matter how small they might feel. She's not afraid to stand up for those who are vulnerable or without a voice. Her positive outlook and practical approach show that no problem is insurmountable when teamwork is involved.
I'm always in awe of writers who can execute such impeccable rhyming, especially as writing successfully in rhyme is so hard to do. This is slightly longer than the typical picture book and it's rare for stories with a higher word count to rhyme the whole way through, yet Catherine Jacob manages to do this flawlessly. The text flows perfectly and its jaunty rhythm really suits the story and the characters.
Lucy Fleming's illustrations are amazing; they're incredibly colourful with lots of adorable details. Every scene is beautiful and alive with nature. You can almost hear the thrum of all the creatures in Betsy's garden and smell the plants yourself. Fruits and flowers blossom on every page. Worms poke their heads up from the earth and spiders, slugs, snails and woodlice explore, while bees, butterflies, dragonflies and ladybirds flutter past.
My kids enjoy looking at all the birthday presents Betsy gets and are particularly fond of her ladybird socks, which match her t-shirt and the applique motif on her dungarees. They love looking at the creatures on every page and discussing what they're up to. Minibeasts are presented as cute and friendly rather than creepy-crawlies, and we see how essential they are. Not only is this an exciting and lively adventure with gorgeous illustrations, but there is also lots to learn. In addition to demonstrating that bees are 'hard-working heroes', it also includes four pages of fascinating facts about minibeasts. I've always been intrigued by dragonflies but had no idea they were older than dinosaurs!
This would make a fantastic classroom resource with endless scope for Betsy-inspired activities as well lessons. It's ideal for children who are already interested in nature as well as encouraging young people to connect with the world outside. Betsy gently makes little readers aware of environmental concerns and the importance of conservation. And her story is a delight to read and return to again and again.
About the author:
Catherine Jacob is a writer, award-winning television correspondent and mum to three small children. When Catherine was the environment correspondent for Sky News, she travelled to far-flung places like the Amazon and the Arctic Circle! Catherine's earlier books are There's a Troll on My Toilet!, Santa's Special Gift and Puppy Club: LuLu's Big Surprise. You can find Catherine on Twitter as @cathjacobnews and on Instagram as @catherinejacobwriter.
About the illustrator: Lucy Fleming has worked on approximately thirty books for children of all ages. We're huge fans of her first book as author-illustrator, the beautiful Ella's Night Lights and (read our review). You can find more of Lucy's work on her website: lucyflemingillustrations.com
Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees was published by Scholastic in August 2021 - see this book on the publisher's website Thanks so much to author Catherine Jacob and Scholastic for kindly sharing this gorgeous book with us - all opinions expressed are our own. #spring