Author Dolores Keaveney delivering copies of her book Dee the Bee.

'A little book buzzing with the beauty of nature'

Book review – Dee the Bee by Dolores Keaveney

By Ciara O’Hara

Dedicated to bees, this beautifully illustrated story explains pollination and its vital role in nature. A vibrant explosion of colourful flowers, fruit and vegetables, with hand-painted watercolours throughout the book, give it a classic and timeless quality.

Dee the Bee practically buzzes with energy thanks to the lively rhyming text and the busy journey it describes.

The magic and beauty of nature are celebrated on every page and vividly brought to life.

We tend to take bees for granted but their populations are in decline. Ireland has 99 species of bees but one third of them are currently threatened with extinction because of a reduction in the numbers of wildflowers and safe nesting sites.

As bees are crucial to the life cycle of plants, it’s imperative that we do our best to protect them. It’s also essential for children to understand their importance from an early age.

This book manages to be educational and informative as well as a lovely book to read aloud. My children enjoy looking at the different fruits and vegetables and identifying their favourites (and some of their least favourites too!).

A diagram at the back explains pollination in more detail and there’s also a helpful list of flowers to plant in your garden to “welcome in the bees”.

The Irish Wildlife Trust has lots more tips for bee-friendly gardening.

Published by Starfish Bay Children’s Books in Australia and distributed all over the world, Dee the Bee is Dolores Keaveney’s first traditionally published story.

If I Were a Bee, her first book, was self-published in 2009 when the Mullingar artist and author was 60. Finding inspiration in her own garden, Dolores has written 14 books and illustrated a further two since then.

As well as creating beautiful children’s books, Dolores designs a range of textiles for Pixalili based on her illustrations. Shannonbridge Pottery also licensed some of her images to use on ceramics.

Dee the Bee is one of the 108 new titles featured in the Books Make Things Better reading guide published by Children’s Books Ireland.

The guide promotes Irish authors and illustrators who lost the opportunity to publicise their books through launches and events this year due to Covid-19.

Dee the Bee would make a great gift and would also be a fantastic resource for use in a classroom.

• Ciara O’Hara is from Mullingar and based in the town. She blogs about children’s picture at Picture Book Snob (www.picturebooksnob.com).

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