Humble the Bumblebee
by Mona Litzenberger
Westwood Books Publishing LLC

"She noticed his humble lifestyle and named him Humble the Bumblebee."

Generationally, while today's K-12 students are becoming more and more reliant on technology and less on personal interaction, it can be argued that the need for young people to use their imagination has become considerably marginalized. In this children’s story, younger audiences will be presented with the opportunity to form connections with an assortment of insects and animals that they will not only be able to connect with but, to a great degree, also relate. Revolving around a cast of characters that will rekindle memories of Charlotte’s Web, Litzenberger’s plot focuses on a honey-making contest that brings old friends together and leads to new ones.

In addition to a clear story structure ideally suited for children, the engagement experience is considerably heightened through the illustrations. In particular, the bright, peaceful colors and soft, swirling brush strokes have a calming effect that can help to reel kids into the story and better appreciate the written word. This is one of the few narratives where the visual imagery holds true to the cliché that a “picture is worth a thousand words.”

The text also gets kids familiar with piecing together the similarities and differences between two objects that formulate similes and metaphors. Obviously, Litzenberger has a knack for painting a visual with words. From the outset, the image of the lonely bumblebee, Humble, having an idea that is as illuminating as a firefly helps children imagine what that idea must feel like. More importantly, the visual helps provoke stimulating questions such as why the bee is lonely, and what kind of idea could it be that makes it so excited?

In regard to the character development, Litzenberger clearly attempts to help young readers understand virtues. She gives her characters evocative names such as “Humble” for the bumblebee, “Harmony” for the hummingbird, and calls another group the “Old Wise Owls.” Simultaneously, she endows these characters with qualities that align with their names. In so doing, the author is depicting beloved characters that children will probably like to emulate.

Thematically, this story, albeit a heartwarming one, tackles serious concerns such as kids being far too isolated, being afraid of forming friendships, and not receiving the positive praise that would encourage them to experiment and further explore their creativity. Through the personalization of animals and insects, children can become one with nature’s species while learning crucial lessons such as the importance of teamwork and collaboration. The narrative is also reminiscent of iconic series like the Berenstain Bears or stories such as “The Three Little Pigs” which ignited the imaginations of an entire generation. Moreover, the use of alliteration in character names and even much of the syntax in the story helps readers become more comfortable with words that they might see daily in school but not quite understand in context.

Overall, Litzenberger’s book is well-developed and tailor-made for elementary audiences. Refreshing, lovable characters with a simple, yet endearing storyline filled with learning lessons transform this narrative from simply an entertaining story for kids to one that would be a fitting book on the shelves of elementary classrooms nationwide.

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