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Two New, Nature-Based Children's Books

From Begin with a Bee by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and Phyllis Root; illustrated by Claudia McGehee. Published by the University of Minnesota Press. Text copyright 2021 by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and Phyllis Root. Illustrations copyright 2021 by Claudia McGehee. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“Fishtastic! A Tale of Magic and Friendship” is a book inspired by new sculptures erected at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City last fall. The art installation is called “Wellspring” and features 30 granite fish created by sculptor Colettel Hosmer. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Chuck Swanson of Hancher Auditorium and Tess Weaver about how this book came to be.

Later on, we hear about another picture book that includes the work of some gifted Iowans and tells an important story about native pollinators. “Begin With a Bee,” starts with the queen of a rusty patched bumblebee colony. It’s the work of authors Liza Kethcum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phillis Root and illustrated by Claudia McGehee.


  • Chuck Swanson, executive director, Hancher Auditorium
  • Tess Weaver, author, "Fishtastic"
  • Jacqueline Briggs Martin, co-author, "Begin with a Bee"
  • Claudia McGehee, illustrator, "Begin with a Bee"
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River