The Bee’s Sneeze / The Fidgety Itch

The Bee’s Sneeze
The Fidgety Itch

Lucy Davey and Katz Cowley
Scholastic Children’s Books

Here are a pair of rollicking rhyming reads from New Zealand author Lucy Davey, illustrated by Katz Cowley (of The Wonkey Donkey fame). Lucy Davey’s rhyming skills are excellent but make sure you practice reading the two stories before sharing them with an audience. They’re absolutely full of wonderful alliteration and onomatopoeic phrases that are sometimes tricky to get your tongue around.

The Bee’s Sneeze begins when a lorikeet expels a seed from its rear, a seed that soon grows into a blooming Tootletuff plant that catches the eye of Buzzy McBee.

Buzzy cannot resist sipping the sweet nectar from a bloom and before long her knees are all a-wobble on account of the teasy sneeze that despite her best efforts, she cannot contain and … AH-CHOO! Buzzy tumbles right into Monkey Minx.

Thus begins an inadvertent nose-teasing chain as the culprit bloom is passed first to Monkey and then on in turn to Barefoot Bear and lizard Lizzie-ma-Lou before an explosive sneeze precipitates a fall and all the sneezers tumble right into Crocodile’s open jaws.

SNAP! However,Croc’s satisfaction comes before a Tootletuff tickle in his tum, for just in the nick of time an unstoppable fizzle becomes an explosive sternutation and the story satisfyingly concludes by coming full circle.

It’s patently obvious from her mix of real and invented language that the author loves playing with words and it’s equally evident that Katz Cowley thoroughly enjoyed creating her dramatic scenes of the events.

Young listeners will relish both especially the opportunity to let rip with some AH-CHOOs (post COVID and with tissues at the ready) and to join in chanting the repeat refrain, “I smell a whiff, a tickle-is sniff, / I’ll squeeze the sneeze inside!”

Equally bursting with delicious language of the rhyming rhythmic kind is The Fidgety Itch with its clever cumulative structure. The key elements – chief protagonist (Timpkin mouse with his penchant for cheese), setting (beneath the fru-fru trees) and the problem – an escalating itch caused by a tiny creature that lurks ready to act. A creature that’s shown but never talked of in the text but is capable of causing for instance a ‘poutingly, peevishly, peppers patch … ‘ that desperately needs a relieving scratch.’

What ensues is a concatenation of co-operative creatures each offering to be a scratcher and becoming the scratch needer,

and all the while Timpkin gleefully gobbles his cheese ‘neath those fru-frus and a certain insect lurks somewhere in plain sight. Until … Fuzzy O’Hare’s cry causes Timpkin to leap ino action and with teamwork all is resolved satisfactorily.

There’s terrific teamwork too between author and illustrator in this zany story that’s a wonderful embodiment of the all important ‘language is fun’ message.

Both books are sure to become favourites with young listeners.