I was sleeping in the back of our hauling truck one night after Pauline shut down our hot dog cart and Ellis closed the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel, and then, after every one of the stars had blinked out for the night so no one could see, that is when an angel came and kissed me on the cheek.
That is the way Pauline sees it.
Other folks say different things, like ‘What a shame, what a shame.'”
Bee tries to hide the birthmark on her face from the customers that come to her hot dog cart at the carnival. But sometimes, they say cruel things or tease her, and it hurts her feelings. It’s not all bad: she has her little dog, and Cordelia, the pig; and there’s Pauline, the young woman who found her-the closest thing she has to a mother.
Bee spends her time looking for the home she dreams of, a nice place for her and Pauline. And she’s learning to run, too, which helps when she is feeling sad. No matter how difficult her circumstances are, Bee tries to remain hopeful. She knows it will be better someday.
When Pauline unexpectedly leaves, Bee takes refuge with her mysterious “aunts”, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter. There’s something a bit strange about them, though: no one else seems to be able to see them. They make a cozy, if unusual, family, and Bee settles down. She even is able to begin school for the first time! However, it’s not as easy as she was hoping.
This gentle novel explores friendship, beauty, and bullying, against the interesting backdrop of World War II. The character development is natural and thorough, and the historical details are fascinating. This book would be great in a classroom, and presents an interesting perspective on wartime combined with a story laced with meaning. It’s also a good way to open a dialogue on differences and bullying. I loved it, even though it made me cry about every other page! I think you’ll love it, too.
Fusco, Kimberly Newton. Beholding Bee. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2013. 327 pp. Ages 11-14.
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