Fusco, Kimberly Newton. 2013. BEHOLDING BEE. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9780375868368 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]
Ten year old Bee was orphaned at the age of four and has spent the last several years of her life in the care of Pauline, a family friend. Together, they work the hot dog cart in a traveling carnival in 1942 New York. Bee has a large, diamond-shaped birthmark on her face, which results in frequent inquiry, teasing, and sometimes bullying from carnival visitors and her carnival boss. Bee longs for a normal life, living in a cozy home with Pauline in a quaint town. When the owner of the carnival forces Pauline to relocate, leaving Bee to care for herself and the hot dog cart, Bee runs away hoping to find a stable life and acceptance. She is seemingly magically led to a home occupied by two peculiar women. Bee moves into the house, enrolls in school for the first time in her life, and begins to grow. She makes friends and enemies. She learns how to cook, clean, and care for herself. She discovers mysteries from her past. And she finds love and acceptance within herself and from others.
Fusco presents a warm, heartfelt, and engrossing story about coming of age, empowerment, acceptance, and self-reliance. Bee is a likeable character experiencing realistic internal struggles in a slightly magical world.
Beholding Bee lends itself to a large group a-chapter-a-day read-aloud or a book club with discussions centering on similarities of the human experience despite physical, emotional, and learning differences, on individuality, and on accepting oneself.
Other books for tweens on acceptance:
Golden, Laura. EVERY DAY AFTER. ISBN 9780385743266
Creech, Sharon. THE BOY ON THE PORCH. ISBN 9780061892356