Barnabee Believes (in Himself)

Children - Animals
39 Pages
Reviewed on 11/23/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Barnabee Believes (in Himself) is a children’s animal picture book written and illustrated by Cazzy Zahursky. Barnabee loved spelling; it was so much fun to figure out which letters made up each word. Every time he heard or read a new word, he couldn’t help but want to learn how it was spelled. His secret dream was to become a spelling bee champion. Then, one day, he couldn’t believe his ears -- his teacher announced that he and Buster Bee had qualified for the big spelling bee. The two young bees were besides themselves with excitement. The teacher then explained that they would be running through practice spelling sessions for the following three days. In the first session, Barnabee went first. He got his word -- and suddenly the ground seemed to drop from underneath him. His head pounded, and his hands were damp and cold. It was a simple word, but he couldn’t do it, he just couldn't do it.

In her inspirational picture book about young bees experiencing stage fright, Barnabee Believes (in Himself), author and illustrator, Cazzy Zahursky, addresses the fears that everyone has felt at some point or other, and will no doubt feel again. As Barnabee’s mom so eloquently explains, one has to feel fear before one can be brave. Young readers will find much in common with Barnabee as even being called to answer a question in class can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you notice fellow classmates giggling and making fun of you. Through her character’s conflict and his efforts to resolve it, Zahursky gives kids great ideas on how to calm themselves before a public speaking situation, and she shows how Barnabee’s alliance with Buster Bee gives both of them strength. Zahursky’s illustrations are colorful and clever, and the message underlying her story is an important one -- there’s also lots of fun bee-centric word play to appreciate along the way. Barnabee Believes (in Himself) is highly recommended.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Is there something you’re really good at doing and you enjoy doing it? Does it involve standing up in front of people to demonstrate your skill? Barnabee Bee loves to spell and he’s really good at spelling. He’s excited when his teacher tells him he qualified to enter the spelling bee. The only problem is, during rehearsals in front of his class, Barnabee freezes. He’s too scared to speak or even move. Each night he goes home and tries to convince himself to believe in himself. But, the next day, it’s the same thing: he freezes at that moment when he’s asked to spell a word, even an “easy-peasy-bumble-beesy” word like “fear.” Things change on the day of the spelling bee when Barnabee notices his fellow contestant, Buster, being tormented by his older brother. Barnabee finds the courage to stand up for Buster, even though Buster had continually teased him during the failed rehearsals in class. With this new-found courage, Barnabee found that he could do anything. All he had to do was believe in himself.

That’s the title of the book, after all: Barnabee Believes (in Himself). Author Cazzy Zahursky cleverly created a picture book story about a timid bee with a passion for spelling, but an immobilizing fear of standing up in front of an audience. The author weaves a compassionate plot that will have young readers cheering for Barnabee, trying to encourage him to be brave and believe in himself. At the same time, the story will encourage these same young readers to find their own bravery, to face their fears and believe in themselves. Written in simple language so the young readers can follow along and perhaps read on their own, and accompanied by colorful illustrations, this story is told with care and compassion with the intent to bolster young readers’ courage. Loved it!