Three wonderful picture books — each in its own way celebrating nature, the joys of a pet, and the companionship of animals.
“Please Please the Bees” by Gerald Kelley is the story of Benedict the bear. He loves honey and gets three jars of honey delivered to his lovely home each morning by bees. He eats his toast with honey, drinks his tea with extra honey, practices his violin, bakes his honey cake, knits, runs errands, and drinks one last cup of honey tea before bed. It’s a very fulfilling life until one morning there is no honey. The bees are on strike, and Benedict learns that sometimes, nature — and bees — need a hand. Clever illustrations provide hints of what is to come, with Benedict living in a house where the plants have all died. Benedict and the young readers of this story learn about what bees need to produce honey, and all live happily ever after. The story is charming, humorous, and important. The illustrations are lovely in watercolor and other media, and the fact that the texture of the watercolor paper is used for much of the white space keeps the illustrations rich and engaging.
“Drat that Fat Cat!” by Julia Patton is the adorable tale of of a neatnik, Cornelius Van Ploof, who lives alone. He hates noise and mess, but adores his very quiet and neat collection of cacti. When a fat cat arrives at the door, Cornelius likes the company. But the mess and the noise and the smells drive him nuts. He kicks the noisy, fat, messy and smelly cat out. He cleans the house. But something is missing. Both cat and cacti-lover miss each other, and they agree to each try to be more tolerant of the other’s habits. Life is good until the doorbell rings and there’s a new surprise there. This sweet silly story will enchant dog and cat lovers, who are very, very aware of the messes involved in living with four-legged creatures and the compromises that must be made.
“Elephants Walk Together” by Cheryl Lawton Malone is the extremely touching story of two elephants captured from the wild as youngsters and forced to perform in a circus. They had been together for years, protecting each other and loving each other until they were sold. One went to zoos, being traded from zoo to zoo, while the other was traded from circus to circus, each alone without the best friend that had been family. Finally, the elephants are reunited by chance at a sanctuary and immediately recognize each other after twenty years apart. This sweetly told story is based on the real-life story of Wanda and Gypsy. See a video about them.
These reviews are based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company, for review purposes.