With the start of a new year, Newsbee wants to improve himself by setting a good example and striving to be the best bee he can be. That’s why he’s buzzing about his January titles, stories that will have him “Pointed in the Right Direction,” reminding him to “bee mindful,” “bee creative,” and “bee brave,” all A+ attributes at the hive and Bee-yond.

‘The Sloth Who Slowed Us Down’

By Margaret Wild

Sometimes it takes a sloth to remind us to live in the moment. Case in point, “The Sloth Who Slowed Us Down.”

The family in Margaret Wild’s book is “the speediest in the world,” their daughter Amy holding on for dear life as they rush around 24-7 accomplishing this and that. They don’t even take time to talk over dinner, and afterward are so preoccupied that even if Amy wants to share something her parents are continually “doing” instead of “being.”

Their incessant hurrying comes to a screeching halt when Amy finds a sloth hanging out in a park and brings him home. Suddenly, the family has to adjust to sloth speed when they go out for a walk and take part in activities.

You might think this would annoy the family, but they have quite a different reaction in a story that appears to be fluffy but actually carries a weighty message. Winsome illustrations by Vivienne To add to this timely book’s appeal.

‘Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art’

By Hudson Talbott

Creativity blossomed for a young English artist who wanted to “paint America,” after his family was forced to move to the United States. “Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art,” by Hudson Talbott, details Cole’s contributions to a style of artwork he gave birth to in the 1800s.

Growing up as a boy in Bolton, England, Cole relished painting what he saw outdoors. He’d heard about America and its “vast wilderness” but didn’t think he’d ever get there — that changed when the Industrial Revolution replaced British “people with machines.” Seeking work, the Cole family headed to Pennsylvania, then to Ohio and finally New York City, where Cole visited the Hudson Valley.

What he saw there set his soul on fire, the “vast wilderness” he’d envisioned became his dream come true as he turned out painting after painting, establishing “a style of art that was 100 percent American,” stated John Trumbull, another famous artist of the day. Detailed illustrations highlight Cole’s life, and reproductions of his paintings show “ . . . America, the beautiful” in all her resounding glory.

‘Lifeboat 12’

By Susan Hood

A quick read, written in verse and based on a true story, “Lifeboat 12,” by Susan Hood, steals your breath away. It’s September 1940, and World War II is raging, the Blitz decimating London. In a desperate effort to save their children, Brits send them by ship to Canada and other countries for safekeeping.

Among the children selected to board the “The City of Banares,” bound for Canada, is 13-year-old Ken Sparks. There are dangers associated with the evacuation. German U-boats carry torpedoes but as “The Banares” hurriedly leaves England on Friday the 13th, the ship is believed to have reached safe waters, until a torpedo rips the vessel apart.

The ship’s occupants proceed with a rescue plan that’s been practiced, but some of the lifeboats have trouble getting loaded, flinging occupants into the raging sea. Lifeboat 12, the 30-foot boat Sparks is on stays afloat, but he and his shipmates face death as their water and food run out.

Their nightmare at sea makes for a gripping read. Hood offers additional information about the disaster, along with pictures of Sparks, his family and additional occupants of the ill-fated voyage.