Polly W. Cheney presents a wonderful guide to the crucial role of bees in the process of pollination with her children’s picture book Food in the Flowers: How Pollinators Help Feed Us All!
Pollination is critical in the modern food chain, for both humans and animals, and this book explains the process, in simple, memorable fashion. The book’s cover and first pages give credit to animal and insect pollinators like lemurs, bats, butterflies, and dragonflies but mostly focus on different kinds of bees, starting with a well-designed spiral chart that shows 22 different types of bees, labeled and arranged by size.
Cheney continues, using rhyming verse to boil down pollination, and bees’ role in it, to the essentials. She clearly explains points that can be tricky to young children, like why the bees “help us”: “Bees help because,/ the food that feeds them,/ is found inside flowers/ on branches and stems!”
The coordination of visuals and text is outstanding, with Overton’s colorful, up-close depictions of flowers, or bees at work, unobstrusively labeled on the illustration. The interior illustrations are repeated in thumbnail size in the book-end glossary, each accompanied by more detailed definitions or general facts related to the image.
As a bonus, Cheney provides a short song, with sheet music—a tribute to flowers, farmers, and, of course, bees. There are also suggestions and resource lists to help parents and teachers incorporate the book into science curriculums.
The text includes some minor missteps, such as a few commas that unnecessarily disrupt the rhythm. And, while a clearer mention of bees in the title might be more representative of the book’s content, this, too, is a minor quibble.
An excellent beginners’ science guide, Food in the Flowers offers an enjoyable way for readers of all ages to learn and better appreciate the wonders of nature.