Clad in a brown leather jacket with matching goggles, B.B. McBee hopes to change how children learn about common environmental issues.
Guided by the motto “fly right,” B.B. McBee is different than other storybook characters, said creator Mark Wasson, because of his unending curiosity for the environment and world around him.
“We find that a lot of the school kids are getting involved with the environment,” said Wasson. “They want to learn about the earth.”
What started as a little inspirational character evolved into an idea for a line of children’s books. Wasson knew he was onto something and searched for an illustrator who could help bring his idea to life. He found fellow Palm Desert resident and retired art teacher Randi Storm, who became the creative force that brought B.B. McBee to life.
The young bee lives in Enchanted Garden, a fun garden where he has plenty of friends and learns valuable life lessons from the importance of conserving water to how to treat those who may be a little different.
There’s JellyBee who learns how to deal with envy. LitterBee learns how to deal with trash and AquaBee is passionate about saving water resources.
The little bespectacled bee inspires a call to action, they said. Wasson and Storm want to the character to inspire children to pick up litter as they see it, or turn off a leaky faucet.
“We give them actions to do,” said Storm. “Parents can read the storybooks and the storybooks will inspire [children] to these activities, and the books are full of fun things to do.”
Using a bee as the main character, said Storm, helps children become more aware of the depleting bee population.
“I found that though I wrote the books geared towards two to five year olds, seven, eight, nine, 10 year olds, love it,” said Storm.
Storm has created prototype books through Shutterfly, and readings have been done at The Living Desert and other venues. The support from both parents and children has been big, they said.
The storybooks have been in the works for nearly three years and Wasson has big goals for the little insect. In addition to the several story books that Storm has written, Wasson has been working with a toy company to produce a plush bee that’s perfect for a child-sized hug. Wasson has also paired with Desert Arc, a non-profit agency that gives opportunities to those living with disabilities, to help create T-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia.
To help make their self-publishing plans a reality, the duo have turned to Kickstarter, a crowd-funding mechanism that helps fund projects through online donations. Rewards are given for contributions and incentives include, t-shirts, hats, signed storybooks and more.
The project will only be funded if they meet their $14,900 goal by Sunday, Dec. 1.
“We’re both concerned about our world,” Wasson said. “We want to make it so the kids are started off young and it’s ingrained in them to maybe not throw that plastic bottle in the gutter.”
Meet B.B. McBee
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