Bibliography: Shannon, David. Bizzy Mizz Lizzie. 2017. New York. The Blue Sky Press. ISBN-13: 9780545619431
Bizzy Mizz Lizzie is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by bestselling author David Shannon. The story follows Mizz Lizzie, the “busiest, buzziest bee” in Bee School. She works hard on her studies and overextends herself with dance, acting, art, music, sports, and the Honey Scouts.
Mizz Lizzie’s ultimate dream is to meet the Queen. When she finds out that the Spelling Contest winner gets to meet the Queen, she immediately signs herself up for yet another extracurricular activity.
Mizz Lizzie’s best friend Lazy Mizz Daizy is the exact opposite of her, because she prefers to lounge around in the garden in her spare time. She sits on the flowers, thinks about things, reads books, and talks to other bees and an interesting old lady.
Exhausted from studying, Mizz Lizzie falls asleep during the Spelling Contest, she awakes three days later in her bed to a worried mother. Realizing she has overdone it, Mizz Lizzie decides to relax in the beautiful garden with Mizz Daizy. When the interesting old lady turns out to be the Queen, Mizz Lizzie rejoices. Just like the Queen, Mizz Lizzie learns how to be “busy doing nothing,” because it helps grow into her best self.
Shannon’s writing utilizes literary devices such as alliteration, amplification, pun, and personification. The use of B and Z alliteration puts the reader in the Bee’s world, with zzz’s and bbb’s buzzing through his sentences.
In Bee School, Mizz Lizzie’s lessons include painting a bug-eyed Mona Lisa, reciting Shakespeare’s “To bee or not to bee” and playing “Bee-thoven’s” music. Shannon uses these puns to add humor and conversation about classic art.
During the Spelling Contest, contestant “Zach Zack was fooled by [the spelling the word] bamboozle.” This is one example of Shannon’s use of amplification, a literary device which embellishes the sentence or phrase by adding more information. Bamboozle is defined as to be fooled. Shannon does a wonderful job developing these literary devices and play on words in order to set the tone of his story.
Shannon’s message is simple: children, and even adults, need time to relax. It’s easy to overextend ourselves with work and extracurricular activities. It’s important to “stop and smell the flowers” every once and awhile. By personifying bees, Shannon draws out the anxiety of busy children. This style of writing creates an anxious and hectic tone which allows the reader to empathize with the restless and nervous Bizzy Mizz Lizzie. All the while, his fun and humorous book keeps readers of all ages engaged.
Art and Illustration:
Shannon’s beautiful and vibrant illustrations add another dimension to this story.
With a dense palate of black, white, red, and yellow, these images help convey a certain mood and tone. Black and white imagery is used in drawings of school or the public, from the busy crowd of bees commuting, Mizz Lizzie’ schoolwork, and in the stadium of Spelling Contest viewers. This helps the yellow bees stand out. The use of black and white also contrasts the garden, the colorful and fun space where the bees are “busy doing nothing.”
In Shannon’s illustrations, he personifies the bees and their behavior to make them relatable to children. Mizz Lizzie and her peers are seen with hands writing essays, dancing, playing music and sports, holding a teddy bear, and sleeping in a bed. Their faces are painted like human faces, but with big bug eyes. Mizz Lizzie’s various anxious and excited expressions are shown through each drawing of her.
Though this story focuses on Mizz Lizzie and other children her age, Shannon drops subtle hints about adult anxiety in the background of his illustrations. Adult bees are buzzing around watching the news and looking at their phone or newspaper rather than talking to one another. Mother bees are seen with frantic faces as they transport their children on their back to and from their activities. Shannon drops in the line, “The only bee that was maybe even busier than Lizzie was her mom.” He points out that with busy children come busier parents and the overwhelming anxiety that stretches into their lives.
Yellow is the most common color used in Shannon’s illustrations. Yellow is a complicated color, because it represents hopefulness and madness. There is an orange hint to the yellow in the bees, which draws on the heavy tone of anxiety. Though yellow is considered childlike, it comes with feelings of sickness and caution. Shannon utilizes this color and varies the shades based on the mood he is trying to set.
Between the juxtaposition of dull and vibrant colors, the beautifully painted landscapes, personified emotions of the characters, background pictures, and use of tone, Shannon does a wonderful job conveying his message in Bizzy Mizz Lizzie.
“With his life-wire and fervent brush strokes, Shannon (“No, David”) specializes in making manic kids like Lizzie sympathetic. There’s a gentle sting instead for adults who overschedule their little achievers.” New York Times Book Review
“Shannon’s exuberant new book is funny and fresh, approaching the subject of over scheduled children (and adults) with breezy good humor and delivered with his signature fun and heart.” Scholastic Canada
“Shannon humorously advocates slowing down to appreciate the small things in life in this bee-themes fable…his excited narration and bold bee caricatures befit a heroine who’s always on the move, bringing a jittery energy to the pages.” Publisher’s Weekly
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Review by Amanda G.