Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kid Konnection: Beholding Bee

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a sweet middle grade book about a very special young girl.

Summary: Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won't enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world--if only she will let herself be a part of it.

This tender novel beautifully captures the pain of isolation, the healing power of community, and the strength of the human spirit.  -- Knopf

I was very excited to find BEHOLDING BEE by Kimberly Newton Fusco in my mailbox last week. I loved middle grade novels and don't have a reason to read them as much now that Booking Daughter is officially a teen! The cover alone of BEHOLDING BEE drew me in, but the positive reviews also made it a book that I wanted to read sooner rather than later -- it's a Children's Top Pick for February from BookPage.

I am so glad that I read BEHOLDING BEE. I really enjoyed this sweet story about a young girl who manages to overcome so much adversity. Bee is an orphan who lives with a traveling carnival. She also happens to have a big diamond shaped birthmark covering one side of her face. It's hard enough not having a mother (or a father), but Bee is also constantly hiding her birthmark with her hair to avoid stares and taunting Thankfully Pauline, a nice young woman who runs the hot day cart, has taken her under her wing and strives to make Bee feel good about herself.

When Pauline leaves Bee to work at another carnival, Bee is lonelier than ever until she finds a lost dog. Knowing that she wouldn't be allowed to keep this dog with her at the carnival, Bee decides that she must find a home for both of them. She discovers a little cottage that looks like a gingerbread house and she meets two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter. These two "aunts" allow Bee to live with them and they take care of her in a very quiet way. In fact, they are so quiet that Bee is the only one who ever sees them....

Bee eventually realizes that these woman are only real to her; however, by then, she's already made some wonderful friends and she learns that she's got a lot to offer! Bee begins to accept herself and embrace all of her beautiful qualities.

BEHOLDING BEE is a very entertaining book with so many wonderful messages for today's girls. For the most part, I really enjoyed the story, although I admit I really liked the beginning when Bee was working at the carnival. I also loved, loved, loved the ending where Bee was making new friends and starting to gain confidence and appreciate herself. However, if I'm being entirely honest, I think it was what I took away from this book that made it so special to me. I absolutely loved the messages about inner beauty, self-confidence, friendship, strength, forgiveness, compassion, and staying true to one's self.

I have a feeling that young girls and tweens are going to love Bee. Heck, I'm way outside the target audience for this novel, and I absolutely adored her. While most girls don't have to deal with the hardships that Bee did, I am betting that girls will still relate to Bee's feelings of insecurity and desire to isolate herself. More importantly, I hope girls will see how strong Bee was and how she was able to learn to take care of herself -- both physically and mentally.

Overall, BEHOLDING BEE is a "magical" read for so many reason! Highly recommended to young girls and tweens... and even their moms!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too! 


rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds so good, even if it involves a carnival (hate that!). And of course, I'm reading the summary and thinking, well, get plastic surgery! ha ha! (alas, not as good of a message for girls! LOL)

Beth F said...

I love middle grade books too and this one sounds like it has good messages for young girls.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds somewhat sad yet wonderful as well. I bet many girls in this target age will enjoy this one.

I joined in this week week as well Julie. Thanks for hosting.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

This sounds wonderful! With such positive messages, so important for today's girls. I think my daughter would like it too.

bermudaonion said...

I listened to this on audio and thought it was great. I loved the messages in the book, too. I'll be posting about it next week.