Thursday, March 21, 2013

BUZZ by Eileen Spinelli

Spinelli, Eileen. Illus. Vincent Nguyen. BUZZ. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4169-4925-1, $15.99 

BUZZ. I can probably recite every word of BUZZ. The reason? My niece loves it. Fortunately, it's a cute book and I rather like it myself. Eileen Spinelli has set the story in response to the scientific statement that "aerodynamically speaking, the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble doesn't know it, so it goes on flying anyway." She switches it around a bit, though, and the story explores what might happen if a bumblebee did find out that she couldn't fly.

BUZZ centers around three main characters: Buzz, Snail, and Old Owl. All three live a happy existence and Buzz especially loves being able to fly over fields of clover, trees, and Snail's briar. Old Owl is lovable in his stereotypical aloofness and Snail is kind—especially when Buzz, devastated upon seeing a news article reporting the scientific findings, can no longer fly. Unfortunately, this happens right when Buzz needs to fly the most. Old Owl is in great danger and only Buzz can save him—if she could fly. Alas, she can't, and Buzz has to come up with another way to save Old Owl.

This book is more than just a sweet little story and pretty pictures; it poses the question: "What will you do when someone says you can't succeed?"

As a side note: I tried out a fun reading development technique (which is appropriate for any illustrated book a child knows well) that was a great success. I asked my niece if she wanted to write the story of Buzz. She excitedly said yes, so I pulled out a piece of paper. I asked her to look at the pictures and tell me a story of what happened. There was a lot of "Buzzy, buzzy, buzzy Buzz!" but it was worth every single reading to watch a three year-old, clutching a few pages to her chest, proudly proclaim: "I'm an author! I writed a book!" Did she put pen to paper? No. But she is beginning to associate the act of writing and words and the creation of written narrative. Who knows, one day she might write her very own book for someone else to review!

Reviewed by Stephanie Ashley

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