Be Wee with Bea

Liz ONeill

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 61 Price: (paperback) $10.99 ISBN: 9781532030628 Reviewed: November, 2018 Author Website: Visit »

In Liz ONeill’s children’s chapter book, Bea the “wee” bear practices various mental and physical activities to help her better cope with life’s problems in a series of short anecdotes and stories.

Bea the bear has a lot to overcome in her young life; for example, she is often bullied for her weight, she struggles to maintain healthy relationships with her peers, and she wants to help an abused puppy adapt to a happier life in her home. In a series of short stories from Bea’s life, readers see how Bea utilizes different exercises—such as her “BRAIN exercise,” or the “DETACHMENT FROM THINGS WHICH HAVE A HOLD ON YOU exercise”— to achieve a healthier, happier life.

In the author’s biography at the book’s beginning, ONeill shares her history as a writing teacher and mental health advocate. Be Wee with Bea is intended as an allegory to empower children with effective coping mechanisms for life’s challenges. However, although the author uses kid-friendly terminology, such as “BRAIN exercise,” to indicate healthy activities, she fails to clearly define each exercise in the narrative. Readers are forced to flip to the glossary, which offers only brief explanations of some (but not all) of the terms. “BRAIN exercise,” for example, is defined as “serious thinking/meditation,” without further instruction.

Mental and physical exercises are indicated in all caps throughout the text, but so are many other things that are not intended as exercises, such as “BULLY,” “BAD FAT BEAR,” “MAKER OF THE BEES,” and “EMPTY.” The inconsistency of stylized terms is confusing and distracting.

The individual stories have little to no plot arc, making the passages more like scenes than compelling narratives. This structure prevents any sort of deep character development, despite the lessons Bea learns, because her development starts over with each one.

Be Wee with Bea starts with an interesting premise. Unfortunately, the book fails to deliver either a compelling story or effectively communicated mental and physical health exercises.

Also available as an ebook.

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