„The Beeman“ by Laurie Krebs

Did you know that I was an official Barefoot Book Ambassador in 2016? As someone who constantly has her nose in a book, promoting literacy and working with the great Barefoot community was the perfect fit! Well, that being said – I quickly discovered that direct marketing isn’t for me. A year later I still love Barefoot books and miss the discounts I got as an Ambassador. That doesn’t change that I’m not a seller, so I keep on reading and reviewing.


Imagine my delight when I was offered review copies of the newest Barefoot books by one of the literacy agencies I’m working with! Sure, I said yes – and quickly re-discovered my love for Barefoot Books. Is there something better than unconventional, diverse children’s literature? Finja chose the first two books to read and review. One of them: “The Beeman” by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Valeria Cis. “The Beeman” is one of the wonderful non-fiction books that teaches children about the real world and score with delightful pictures, an attention-grabbing storyline and rhymes.

Do you know where our honey comes from? Bees not only provide us with honey, their work as pollinator is important for our environment – but bees are critically endangered. “The Beeman” teaches little ones about bees, a bee man’s everyday life and why bees are neither scary nor dangerous, but important for our environment.


The story: Grandpa, the bee-man, teaches his young grandson the basics of beekeeping. His relationships to his bees is one of friendship and respect. They are family. We discover the boxes where bees live and sleep – the “beehive”. We learn about different kinds of bees and their duties: What are worker bees for, how do you recognize drone bees and why is the queen so important for a bee colony? Did you know that the house bees dry up the nectar brought by worker bees to make honey? How will the bees survive in winter and how does the honey get from the honey comb into the bottle? Author Laurie Krebs wrote her rhyming story easy to understand, several pages of endnotes full of essential facts about bees and beekeeping are perfect for children and parents that have more questions. The recipe for “Grandma’s Apple and Honey Muffins” is a tasty activity for hungry readers.

I re-discovered my love for non-fiction when Finja started to ask questions about our world. “The Beeman” is one of the books I love for my preschool-aged daughter: Easy to understand and awakening curiosity. She’s able to discover “The Beeman” by herself, even if she’s not able to read yet. The illustrations by Valeria Cis are colorful and grasp her attention, but they are also true to fact. The publisher recommends “The Beeman” for age 5 to 9, in my opinion the book is already perfect for preschool aged children.

A wonderful book for curious children (and parents)!

“The Beeman”
Written By: Laurie Krebs
Illustrated By: Valeria Cis
Publisher: Barefoot Books
ISBN-13: 978-1846862601


„Hello World“ by Jonathan Litton

“Hello” might be just a little word. But it starts relationships. A friendly “Hello” opens doors. A “Hello” brings smiles. The book Hello World – A celebration of languages and curiosities” picks up the significance of this small word. The concept of this book is simple, but it’s message is complex: The world has over 7000 languages, all of them alive and changing every day. At the end of this century half of them will be lost. “Learn the small languages as well as the big ones, and keep these languages alive.” This message on the last page of “Hello World” was most impressive for me as a parent. Did you know that a language is lost every 14 days?

"Hello World" by Jonathan Litton

That’s why it’s so important to teach our children about language and culture. “Hello World” makes a beginning, the book shows preschool and elementary school aged children how much fun learning a new language can be. And there is a lot to learn with the over 140 languages shown in this book! Sturdy pages with colorful maps of each continent teach about the “Hello” in different languages and the numbers of speakers – including “Hello” in Native American Hand Talk and American Sign Language. Multiple flaps with pages of each continent invite to linger, browse and discover. Especially fascinating: Trivia about each continent, like the Incan civilization, the different languages in West Africa and the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Or maybe you want to try the unspoken Maori greeting gesture “hongi”? Finally, readers learn to say “Goodbye” in different languages.

"Hello World", published by 360 degrees

Hello World” introduces children to foreign cultures, celebrates diversity and makes learning global languages fun. Finja started exploring immediately and although she can’t read yet she had lots of fun asking about each continent or country and finding “America, far away from Germany”. According to the publisher “Hello World” is intended for children 8-12 years, but I found it fascinating for preschoolers, too.

Multiple flaps make learning fun!

This book was published by “360 degrees”, an imprint by Little Tiger Press. According to the publisher’s homepage “there is great value to be had in pausing for a fresh look at your surroundings. 360 Degrees illuminates a multitude of curiosities, from the inner workings of a spacesuit to the physiology of a penguin, and from the life-cycle of lemmings to the intricacies of Chinese characters. From the everyday to the extraordinary, our authors and illustrators have crafted interactive books to intrigue and delight.” This is definitely something we could see when exploring “Hello World”! We recently reviewed “Things that grow” from the same publisher.

"Hello World" by Jonathan Litton

„Hello World“
written by Jonathan Litton
illustrated by Cartographik L’Atelier
Publisher: 360 Degrees
ISBN-13: 978-1944530006

Educational books in two languages: Yes, there are differences

You don’t realize how different book markets are, until you actually live in two of them…

Knowing that most of popular German novels are translated from English (or vice versa) I never felt that the German and English book market is so different. This changed when Finja was born and most books in our household were board and picture books. Sure, there still are lots of translations – just take “Room on the broom”, one of Finja’s favorite books. It’s German version “Für Hund und Katz’ ist auch noch Platz” is a Bestseller, too. Even “Bear on a bike” from the British publisher Barefoot books can be found as English original in almost every German bookstores now.

Finja's room is overflowing with books - because she has to have all the English and German classics plus all the other stuff we like
Finja’s room is overflowing with books – because she has to have all the English and German classics plus all the other stuff we like

So why are we still ordering books from Germany? Why does our family carry luggage heavy with children books when visiting the US?  Sometimes it’s just about being nostalgic. Even before Finja was ready to just look at books with more than vague interest (“oh, look, all these colors!”) we stocked up our bookshelf with classics like “Räuber Hotzenplotz”, “Weißt Du eigentlich wie lieb ich Dich habe” and “Der Regenbogen-Fisch”, the German original of “The rainbow fish”. We are able to read “The little prince” and “The very hungry caterpillar” in two languages, as a side by side comparison. Finja’s great-grandmother just send a package with German children book classics – they will be a great addition. And now that Finja mostly speaks English it’s a great way to still teach her the basics of German language.

But the truth is: There are certain differences. The market in the US is different from the German market. Finja loves the “National Geographic” books for kids – and I like them as well. We can order Scholastic-Books over Finja’s preschool and I rather spend 3 Dollar for a Natioal Geographic paperback about pandas or wolves than on a magazine about princesses. Finja can “read” these books herself (speak: interpreting the pictures) and then tell her dad that she just learned that great pandas are more cats than bears (an open interpretation of what I read two days ago) and wolves live in families.

National Geographic for kids - a great way to learn!
National Geographic for kids – a great way to learn!

But the best non-fiction educational series I know comes from Germany. “Wieso? Weshalb?  Warum?” is published by Ravensburger – and I still know the blue triangles in the corner of the page from my childhood.


Wieso? Weshalb? Warum” comes as “junior” edition for children from 2 to 4 years of age, 4 to 7 and 8 to 12. Finja almost owns the whole junior edition. “My world”, “being in the wood”, “traffic rules”, “on the beach”, “cats” or “my body”: She loves the “open the flap”-concept and short texts about her world that don’t distract her from opening page after page without being considerate of my reading speed. As a parent I love the illustrations. They are colorful and realistic – but it’s not “too much”. As much as I like National Geographic, sometimes their children books are overflowing with information, colors and pictures… Plus: „Open the flap“-books are not just for toddlers. Finja is an active child and I love that she can learn about her world in an interactive way. Just look at this video (ignore the hard German intonation) – isn’t that awesome?

As soon as my sister visits in March we’ll try the TipToi-Books from the same publisher. A interactive pen bring the pictures in these books alive – sound and explanation included. I was searching for a similar concept in the US, but my research didn’t find any… It’s all about learning with fun isn’t it? 🙂

What is your favorite educational book for children?