Rebecca Kai Dotlich was not just our August featured 12 x 12 author — she’s also a friend.  I had the good fortune of meeting and working with her at the Highlights Foundation Poetry for All workshop last May. I love that I can see and hear her in my choice for this week’s PPBF – Bella & Bean.

Bella & Bean

Written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Illustrated by Aileen Leijten

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February, 2009

Suitable for: Ages 4+

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Poetry, Compromise, Nature

Opening/Synopsis: From Publisher’s Weekly: “Bella is a moody, obsessed poet: Bonnets, daisies, windows, toes—/ Secrets hide in sky, in rose, she writes. Her best friend (and fellow mouse), Bean, is an impulsive bundle of energy, eager to show off her new striped stocking cap embellished with two daisies, and annoying Bella with her interruptions. What starts off looking like a tale of mismatched friends turns out to be, instead, a splendidly accessible exploration of the poetic process as Bella finds Bean’s words seeping into her work.

Activities:  My first choice would be to have children write poems of course. Have kids think of words, like Bella does, and then write a poem using those words.  Or one child could provide words (like Bean does unintentionally) and the other could write the poem.  Then have them change roles. Here, too, is an excellent Poetry Guide for teachers and librarians that includes activities for Bella & Bean.  Writers should also read this Cynsations interview with Rebecca about writing the book.

Why I Like This Book: I have two children – one is a Bella and the other is a Bean.  I’m not sure my kids recognize themselves when I read them this book, but they both love it, so I have to think they do on some level.  In addition to the poetry theme, which I love, the book also has a great message about compromise, and how differences between people can make them both stronger and happier.  Bella and Bean respect each other for their differences and those differences end up bringing them closer together.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,



  1. I like the cover and the message! 🙂

  2. This sounds like a fabulous book. Love the cover art.

  3. Oh! this is such a cute book and with a lovely message. It’s true, different natures make for stronger friendships. Great choice Julie.

  4. This book sounds delightful, Julie! And the cover art is so appealing, it just makes you want to pick it up and read it! Thanks for adding it to our list!

  5. Compromise is an important choice for anyone…even husbands and wives! I’ll need to check this one out. Thanks Julie!

  6. Rebecca Kai Dotlich…I’m hooked!!! The cover is precious. I will add this to my list.

  7. Lovely choice Julie. This book carries an important message, but also is appealing in many other ways. Love the rhyming and your suggested activities. The cover is inviting, too.

  8. Great recommendation, Julie. I’m adding it to my list — I’ve got a Bella and a Bean, too.

  9. I too have a Bella and a Bean in my house, Julie, so I’d love to see how each responds to this story when we read it together! I love this bit about two people getting to respect each other’s differences and ending up together as a stronger unit. Great share, Julie!

  10. Love how the picture book makers names have been incorporated into the action on the cover!

  11. Whimsical cover with poetry. Excellent combination. I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks!

  12. What a wonderful book. Thanks Julie.

  13. Such a wonderful book! And Aileen Leijten’s artwork is delightful. Great pic from a terrific author and poet. :0)

  14. I bet I know 2 little granddaughters who would like this book. Thanks for sharing, Julie

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