Review: A is for Bee

Posted August 1, 2022 by Richetta in Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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Review: A is for BeeA Is for Bee by Ellen Heck
Published by Chronicle Books on May 3, 2022
Genres: Juvenile Nonfiction / Art / General, Juvenile Nonfiction / Concepts / Alphabet, Juvenile Nonfiction / Foreign Language Study / General
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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What letter does the word bee start with?
If you said "B" you're right – in English!
But in many, many languages, it actually starts with A.
Bee is Anū in Igbo,
Aamoo in Ojibwe,
Abelha in Portugese.
And Arı in Turkish.

Come and explore the gorgeous variations in the ways we talk about familiar things, unified and illuminated through Ellen Heck's eye-catching, graphic scratchboard details and hidden letterforms.

Buy on Bookshop | Amazon

If you love language, then you absolutely need to check out A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation by Ellen Heck. As a parent of children who are in a language immersion school, I can tell you that this book is a fantastic introduction to experiencing different languages. When my oldest was in kindergarten, we constantly had to remember that A is for Apple in English, but M is for Manzana in Spanish. It seems like a little thing, but it is a huge adjustment as you shift your mind to learning a new language.

Diversity of Languages

Unless you are a current world traveler, you will more than likely encounter a language you are unfamiliar with in this book. This is awesome! The exposure to so many languages is amazing and will hopefully engage the adult and child reader in asking questions and seeking additional information. We had fun trying out each new word on our tongues, knowing that we were probably mispronouncing 9/10 words. But once we tried each word out and we got to the end, we found a wonderful resource provided by the publisher that has recordings of a majority of the words.

Illustrations & Animal Order

Can this book please be turned into a series of posters too? The illustrations were gorgeous and colorful! Also, I’m glad the author chose to switch the animal order up! As we got to the middle of the alphabet, I was wondering where Mr. Zebra was going to land. The poor thing always ends up last…but not this time. If you check out the Author’s Note at the end of the book, you will learn this is intentional.


Speaking of the author’s note, I love all of the research that went into this book. The author and her team tracked down native speakers and confirmed variations of words from multiple dialects. This was my introduction to the term transliteration, which means to “take a word from a language with its own sounds and writing system and use the closest corresponding symbols or letters to write that word in a different writing system.” I’m looking forward to the release of the audiobook of A is For Bee, that is scheduled to publish on Nov. 15, 2022.


I came for… the love of multilingualism 

I stayed for…. learning the different words for animals typically featured in the alphabet. 

Hot Cocoa Moments: Listening to the pronunciation of many of the words after trying it on my own with my daughter first. Seeing all of the different words for animals. 

Would I Read it Again: Yes

Educator Recommendations: This is a great opportunity for learning and exposure. If you are a parent whose child is about the begin an immersion or dual language school as a kindergartner, then I definitely recommend this book to you. It will help you out as you are adjusting to helping your child with their school work in another language. If I were using this book with students, I would encourage students to not only look up the pronunciation of the word but also to learn more about the different languages featured in the book. If I were using this with older students, I’d delve into the romanization of language concept.

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