Krista Reviews - Kimberley Fusco Newton's - "Beholding Bee"

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won’t enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.


Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world–if only she will let herself be a part of it.

This tender novel beautifully captures the pain of isolation, the healing power of community, and the strength of the human spirit.

Hardcover, 336 pages  Published February 12th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

When orphaned Bee is abandoned by her only guardian Pauline,she is stuck working the hot-dog stand with a travelling carnival. Because of Bee’s birthmark that covers a huge portion of her face, she has always been shy and bullied. It’s not long before her last and only friend also leaves the circus to take on a more steady job. When the owner suggests that Bee could be bringing in money for the carnival by becoming a part of the oddity exhibits because of her looks, Bee takes a stand and decides to leave and find herself a home of her own. With only a dog and a pig, Bee wanders off on foot looking for what she always imagined would be a perfect house.

Since she lost her parents Bee has always seen glimpses of a mysterious old woman. Until recently, she had never spoken to her and nobody but Bee could see the woman in the floppy hat. As Bee travels through a random town,  it seems that she is being guided by the woman. She is led to the house of her dreams and is soon introduced to Mrs Potter and Mrs Swift, who take her in. But when a nosy neighbour begins asking too many questions and Mrs Potter and Mrs Swift never seem to be around, Bee ends up having to grow up quickly, cooking and managing the house by herself. 

Beholding Bee is a very heart warming story and the companionship that Bee finds along the way is endearing. There are some similarities to the stories of Nanny McPhee, with a little less humour but a lot of heart. Bee eventually ends up attending school, making a great friend and building her life up to what she has always hoped it would be.

Set during the great depression, there is an emphasis on the history of women’s rights and a theme of learning how to take care of one-self and becoming a stronger person. As the saying goes “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

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