unBEElievables: honeybee stories and paintings by Douglas Florian
Publisher: Beach Lane Books
Level: LE, UE
Personal Connection: 4
Literary Quality: 5
Lately we have seen lots of picture book nonfiction that pairs poetry with interesting tidbits of knowledge usually centered around a certain subject. One of the latest editions to that genre is unBEElievables: honeybee stories and paintings by Douglas Florian. Florian has always been one of my favorite poets and the poems in this book don’t disappoint. Every poem in the book is delightful and well crafted, something I don’t often find with these nonfiction poetry books since many people try to force the poetry to fit a predetermined mold that will convey their information. This is not a fault of this book and all the poems are simple and fun. My favorite is Bees Buzz which uses the onomatopoeia of the bees “Buzz” to play with the uzz sound. A very delightful play on rhythm and language. In addition to the poem on each page is a bee fact that connects to the poem. These facts are brief and interesting and elaborate on the theme of the poem. The poems and facts are also organized very nicely progressively building on each other until you have a whole picture of the life of bees. The great majority of children’s nonfiction is interesting and delightful to read, but when poetry is skillfully used to convey information the interest and delight is heightened. Add in the raw illustrations done in a folk art style this book is a wonderful example of nonfiction at its best.