Author: Kathleen J. Shields
Illustrators: Leigh A. Klug & Carol W. Bryant
Publication Date: October 8, 2012
Publisher: Independent – CreateSpace
Number of pages: 48
Recommended age: 3 to 6
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Hamilton Troll Meets Barney Bee is a rhyming story about a friendly little troll who meets a rather plump, pollen-eating bee who teaches him all about bees including what colours they can and cannot see; about which bees sting and which do not; and, other fun facts about bees. But as Barney is educating Hamilton he is eating so much that his little wings can no longer carry him. Hamilton then teaches Barney about good nutrition and the importance of exercise.
1. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I think it’s cool what they did using the bees and their wings to make the letter “B”. I liked the pictures. My favorite one is the one where Barney is skipping because it’s funny. Bees don’t have legs so how do they skip?
2. What can you tell me about the main characters? Hamilton Troll is one of the characters. He is helpful in the story because he helps Barney Bee to fly. Barney Bee is the other character. When we first meet Barney, he really likes to eat pollen and he is too heavy. He learns to not eat too much pollen and to exercise too.
3. What is your favorite part of the book? My favorite part of the book is when Barney is skipping because it looks funny. He looks funny in a lot of the pictures.
4. What is your least favorite part of the book? My least favorite part of the book is when Barney Bee can’t fly because I felt bad for him.
5. If you could eat one food all day long for one day, what would you eat? I would eat strawberries all day long because it’s my favorite food.
6. Overall, what did you think about this book? I thought the book was ok. The story was not exciting enough for me.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I think littler kids than me would like this story.
Son Rating: ★★★☆☆
Son Rating: ★★★☆☆
My Thoughts: Hamilton Troll Meets Barney Bee is a sweet rhyming picture book featuring a friendly little troll who happens upon a busy little bee who teaches him all about bees. This story is the third volume in the Hamilton Troll series by Kathleen J. Shields. In these books, Hamilton Troll is a shorter, friendlier troll than we would normally encounter in children’s books and I think he is a good central character.
There are actually two interwoven themes in this book. On the one hand, there is educational value as Hamilton learns certain facts about bees such as their inability to see the colour red and how male bumble bees cannot sting. There were also some “fun facts” interspersed within the book. I thought this was good.
On the other hand, we also see how Barney is a plump bee that eats so much pollen that he can no longer fly. Hamilton teaches him about the importance of nutrition and exercise. The themes themselves are appropriate for this age group. That being said, I do feel that the book is quite lengthy at 48 pages and the word density is quite high (e.g., 50+ words per page). I think perhaps the author could have focused on teaching the reader about bees OR about nutrition and exercise. My son was losing focus as I was reading this book because there was so much information.
The illustrations are bright, colourful, and very kid-friendly. My son was fascinated by the pictures of the bee in particular because he is used to seeing small bees in real life. I love the feel of the illustrations with the outlines of the characters and objects appearing to be “coloured in” by marker. I love how, in the back of the book, there were illustrations of the flowers shown in the story with each flower’s name beside the pictures so they can be identified. That was a nice touch.
I can really appreciate how difficult it is to tell a story with good rhyming and cadence. For the most part, I felt that the rhyming worked. I did feel however that each line of the 2-line verses was rather lengthy and I had difficulty finding the rhythm. For example, in the very first verse, I immediately stumbled as I read it and I was unsure of where each line began and ended. Here are the lines as they appear in the book:
What a pretty spring day,
as he started a nice little stroll,
The sun had been shining so very bright,
it called him right out of his hole.
Although I initially had trouble establishing the cadence of the book, I did quickly catch on and I was able to continue reading it without too many problems. Note to Authors: As I see this time and time again, I just want to highlight that short, simple rhymes work best in picture books as they are targeting younger children.
My Bottom Line: Hamilton Troll Meets Barney Bee is a sweet, albeit lengthy, picture book with some educational tidbits about bees and an important message about nutrition and exercise. I think children between the ages of 3 and 6 who enjoy stories about legendary creatures such as trolls and sprites would enjoy the Hamilton Troll series.
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest opinions. *
Follow Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Won’t you please sign up by entering your email address below? Thank you!