A Smother Goose literature review
First off, the title is misleading (beyond the fact that you'll need to avoid calling it "Busy Bee" by mistake). Like Godot, Fuzzy Bee never actually appears. His likeness graces the cover but is nowhere to be found inside.
Anyway, Fuzzy Bee has a posse. It seems implausible that a bee would have allies as diverse as a snail or a worm--given that it spends most of its time in a hive full of other bees--so if your child is well-versed in apiology, he or she might have some questions about this. (For the less informed child, you might also wish to explain that not every part of a bee is "fuzzy.")
An omniscient narrator introduces each of Fuzzy Bee's friends in turn, alternately ridiculing them ("Keep moving snail, you're really slow") or making spurious claims about their temperament ("This dragonfly is really tame"). The last page contains the soliloquy of a megalomaniac butterfly fishing for validation: "Oh me, Oh my! I wonder why / I'm such a splendid butterfly!"
Fuzzy Bee is also a text mired in scandal; two characters have been excised from the most recent version without explanation. Rumors that this move was spurred by an affair between Sally Spider and Mr. Fly are still mere allegations at this point, however.
Then there's Squishy Turtle and Friends which, like a Whit Stillman film, continues the thematic elements of Fuzzy Bee while introducing a new cast of characters. Oddly, the narrator seems to be sadly misinformed about blue whales, suggesting that they could potentially live in a freshwater lake given that it's large enough, and that they eat "little fish with shiny scales." To divert the savvy reader from questioning the veracity of these claims, the narrator threatens you with a crab who "knows / just how to pinch your tiny toes," and then ends the tale with the threatening spectre of a "hungry shark" (see above).
In truth, blue whales eat only krill / (and "squishy" turtle means roadkill)
Priddy, Roger. Fuzzy Bee and Friends. New York: St. Martin's (Priddy Books), 2003.
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