Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bee-Ginnings Of The Bear-y Best Kind

Out walking in April seeing the first robin after a long, chilly, snowy winter never fails to make me feel like dancing.  It's a sure sign that soon the air will be filled with more than birdsong, the gentle, almost imperceptible, hum of awakening insects will gradually fill the silence.  The telling perfume of skunks, and tracks of turkeys, rabbits and squirrels left in the receding snow are indications spring is coming and coming soon.

With spring comes renewal.  With renewal comes growth.  It has always seemed to make sense for growth to be most successful, understanding needs to be present.  

But if you're a bear whose winter nap is drawing to a close, renewal, growth and understanding are the last things on your mind.  Your big bear belly is telling your brain to find some food and find it fast.  Bridging the gap between hunger and honey Bear and Bee (Disney Hyperion), penned and pictured by Sergio Ruzzier, shows how the right amount of understanding can fill more than an empty stomach.

Moving about as the snow melts, putting on his red sandals, Bear gets ready to venture out.  By the time he leaves his cozy den, stretching to greet the sunny day, flowers are blooming among the green grasses. A treat is hanging from a nearby tree branch.

"I'm hungry," says Bear.

Bear's nose gives him the news a hive filled with honey is ready to be enjoyed.  A tiny being asks him if he would like some of this sweet delectable delight.  Of course he wants some but his fear of the bee stops him.

His reply when asked if he has ever seen a bee is a hearty no and he never wants to either. He believes them to be frightful, big with large teeth and sharp claws.  His small companion points out he is big...he has large teeth...and...sharp claws.

At these revelations Bear exclaims in despair,


The ensuing conversation clears up the identity of each.  With that issue resolved Bear's big belly's emptiness prompts a query.  The answer is exactly what Bear and Bee need and want.

Told entirely in dialogue between the two characters, the spare text moves the narrative forward flawlessly.  Pausing at the precise point prior to a turn of page, Sergio Ruzzier elevates interest and ignites humor; knowing what to say and when.  The progression of Bear's befuddlement to bliss contrasted with Bee's complete kindness and knowledge makes this story simply charming.

A nearly matching jacket and cover introduce, in a two-page visual, the characters and color palette. (The cover includes the text from the front jacket flap in the cloud on the back.) Opening endpapers done in a steely navy feature a pattern of snowflakes, each one different.  The next six pages, introductory, title, dedication and copyright, immediately invite readers to the story as they show a passage of time from winter into spring.  It's as if we've heard once a upon a time and we get to begin right away; as it should be.

Ruzzier's expressive pen and ink drawings colored digitally on the heavier matte paper span across both pages in all the illustrations in this title.  The looks on his character's faces and their body movements conveying mood and mannerisms are priceless.  As the day moves toward night the background reflects the peaches and oranges of a setting sun.  Stars are sprinkled across the rich, bluish-purple evening-sky color on the closing endpapers.

If you are looking for a huggable, lovable tale, then Bear and Bee written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier is the perfect choice; fear is erased with sweetness, literally and figuratively.  Please follow the link embedded in Ruzzier's name above to his official web site.  He has generously provided downloadable activity sheets for this title.

Follow this link to TeachingBooks. net to hear how he pronounces his name.  These two links are to interviews and highlights courtesy of Julie Danielson at Kirkus and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  On both of these blog posts at Pen & Oink (here and here) more information is shared about the process of creating this book.

"Sergio Ruzzier, we're glad you are an illustrator and an author."


  1. This book looks sooooo sweet. Love the bear and his red sandals. :)

  2. It is sweet, Jama. I'm thinking about getting a bear and bee puppet to use in reading this aloud. It would be perfect for a reader's theater too. I hugged it when I read the last page for the first time.