Anna Brett, illustrated by Rebeca Pintos
Anna Brett, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
These are the first titles in the new Really Wild Families series, each book being narrated by the titular Little animal.
Little Bee is a bumblebee, just a few days old that’sfreshly emerged from its cell in the nest ready to introduce its entire family. We meet first a few little brother bees and more than a hundred sisters (the workers) and the Queen, their mother. The babies’ first task of the day is to clean the wax cells in their nest: their very first lesson. They also help look after their mother so she has sufficient energy to lay more eggs. However their role changes as they age, the elder ones caring for the queen and her eggs; in addition they go out collecting pollen and nectar for food. What stories they have to tell about the wonderful aromas of some of the flowers they visit. In contrast, the young drones leave the home fairly soon and go off in search of young queens to mate with.
All the female bees need to be on the alert for intruders such as birds or small mammals that like nectar and if necessary they’ll defend themselves with venom-covered stingers.
The queen prepares the young females for the time they too will lay eggs and set up their own nests, giving them step-by-step instructions.
Our narrator tells readers about the nurse bees and the larvae that they feed with royal jelly and once they’ve grown sufficiently, seal them in separate cells by means of a wax cover and there each will pupate, eventually transforming into new queens. After that she talks more about nectar and pollen collecting.
A considerable amount of information is included in this chatty narrative but further spreads contain more ‘fun facts’ about pollination, a quiz and some other fun activities.
Little Lion works in a similar way with a cub reporting on life in the grasslands of the African savannah. We meet the pride that comprises mother, father, siblings and many relations, learning of the roles of the adults and how the cubs spend their time in a playful manner that helps prepare them for hunting in the future. She also says that lions are territorial creatures, explaining what that means and how lions keep safe; she tells readers about surviving through the dry season
and introduces some very young cubs belonging to another adult female. On this particular day, night brings a storm which serves to make hunting easier but after so much talking, our cub narrator is ready to curl up with other family members for some sleep.
Again there’s a ‘fun facts’ spread, information about white lions as well as the need to conserve lions, now classed as a vulnerable animal species, and other activities for little humans.
Both illustrators make the creatures they portray more endearing than realistic, but there are some photographs of bees and lions after the main narratives. Attractively presented, basic scientific information embedded in a story form easily absorbed by young children make this series written by Anna Brett, one to share in foundation stage settings or at home.