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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Kintu and the Fairy Bee is a children’s picture book written by Mary Beth Numbers and illustrated by Kabuye Ivan. This is a retelling of the story by Mrs. George Baskerville, which was first published in 1922, and was based on the oral storytelling traditions and folklore of Uganda. Kintu lived a simple, yet happy life on the shores of the Great Lake. He lived alone except for the cow who was his only friend and companion. Then he made another friend while he was out in the fields, planting crops with his cow. He had found a rain-sodden bee languishing in a puddle left after a mighty rainstorm. The bee’s wings were too wet for him to use, and the cold was slowly killing him. Kintu picked up the bee and warmed him, slowly restoring the bee to his health. The bee was thankful that Kintu had saved his life and promised to assist him if ever Kintu had problems. Kintu soon did have a problem -- when he awoke one morning, his cow was gone. All his efforts to find it near his home were in vain. The bumblebee told him where the cow had been taken, and he promised that he would help Kintu get it back.
Mary Beth Numbers’s children’s picture book, Kintu and the Fairy Bee, is a remarkable story about a young man whose unlikely friendship with a bee helps him regain his stolen cow. I loved the simplicity and warmth of this story and appreciated the role the bumblebee takes in helping Kintu outsmart the witch who had stolen his cow. Kabuye Ivan’s illustrations are brilliant! They’re brightly colored and bring the Ugandan countryside to life. I particularly liked the panel where Kintu approaches the witch to demand his cow and the panel where Kintu must locate his cow amidst the many in the witch’s herd. Each panel would work quite well framed for a kid’s bedroom. I’m hoping the author decides to retell other Ugandan folk stories and will be looking for them. Kintu and the Fairy Bee introduces children to another culture in a most compelling way, and it’s most highly recommended.