Liza Ketchum author educator
Begin with a Bee
written by Liza Ketchum,
Phyllis Root, and
Jacqueline Briggs Martin
illustrations by Claudia McGehee
University of Minnesota Press
40 pages, 30 color illustrations
May 2021
ISBN 978-1-5179-0804-1
Available in the children’s section of your local bookstore or online from:
 
 
 
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Begin with a Bee

 

Video

We celebrate the publication of two new books from Dorset author Liza Ketchum: her memoir The Last Garden and the children’s book Begin with a Bee. We’re joined by her bee book co-authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis Root along with illustrator Claudia McGehee.

Jackie, Phyllis, Claudia, and I took part in Molly Beth Griffin's Picture Book Salon on Monday, October 4, 2021. You can watch the session here.

Honors and Recognition

101 Great Books for Kids, Evanston Public Library, 2021
Bank Street's Best Children's Books of 2021
John Burroughs Riverby Award
The Nature Generation's Green Earth Honor Book
Star of the North Picture Award nominee

 

About the Book

Begin with a Bee and its story of the life of one queen bee, a rusty-patched bumblebee, teaches us not only about bees but also about our own responsibilities in the natural world

Looking closely at the life cycle of one bee, this book helps readers of all ages understand and appreciate the contributions and significance of all bees. The queen bee’s life unfolds through captivating illustrations, while the authors impart the poetry and basic science of the rusty-patched bumblebee, the first bee to appear on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species list.

By looking closely at the life cycle of one bee, Begin with a Bee helps readers of all ages understand and appreciate the contributions and significance of all bees. The life cycle of the rusty-patched bumblebee is a tale of wonder, the adventure of one queen bee who carries an entire colony of bees inside her tiny body. Her story begins in the spring when she emerges from a hole in the ground to search for pollen. She finds a nest, “underground best,” lays a few eggs, and seals them in pollen. All summer this single queen lays more eggs, and more worker bees hatch. They gather pollen and maintain the colony until next year’s queen hatches in the fall.

The queen bee’s life unfolds through Claudia McGehee’s captivating illustrations. The authors—three beloved and prolific writers of award-winning children’s books—impart the poetry and basic science of the rusty-patched bumblebee, the first bee to appear on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species list.

Extensive commentary at the end of the book offers suggestions for being a friend to bees as well as a good citizen of the natural world. It also introduces the native plants that bumblebees need for survival. Begin with a Beemight inspire a child (or any of us) to seek out, identify, even cultivate these essential flowers—and participate in the next chapter in the story of all bumblebees.

Reviews

"Honeybees get a lot of attention because of their use in agriculture and their honey, but what about other hardworking pollinators? Here readers will learn about another industrious bee—the rusty-patched bumblebee—from a queen bee’s life cycle to the species’ role in the food web. The story is told in brief bursts of text, often approaching free verse, on each spread: “Eggs hatch! / Are they bees yet? / No. / Little white grubs, / no eyes, no legs, / eating machines.” The backmatter information is more straightforward, providing enough substance for a simple report, and confronts the rusty-patched bumblebee’s endangered status. It also includes a short list of resources for further research and 10 suggestions that people of all ages can do to help the struggling bee population. The real queen in this colony is the striking artwork, which appears to be linoprinted with added watercolor. Close-ups of the bees alternate with views of a lush countryside and its other denizens. It’s an inviting book on any shelf, and the story is concise enough for longer storytimes. Educators, caregivers, and young readers will all be buzzing with delight. This book is the bee’s knees." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"These two beautiful books make wonderful reading, bringing memories, gardening lore, and scientific understanding to all who admiringly turn their pages." Laura C. Stevenson, "A Memoir of Vermont and a Bee Picture Book, Both for Gardeners," Deerfield Valley News, 22 July 2021. Read her full article.

 

   
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