If you have any interest in nonfiction picture books or honeybees at all, you need to read this one. Both the text and the illustrations are phenomenal!
The concept is straightforward enough, follow the life of a single adult worker honeybee from emergence from the pupal chamber, starting with:
One summer morning deep in the nest,
a brand-new honeybee
chews through the wax cap of her solitary cell and into…
Just because the story follows an adult, doesn’t mean that the life cycle is missing stages. The worker becomes a nurse bee and tends to the eggs and larvae, so the full life cycle is represented.
After reading this book, my first reaction was that this is a textbook example of how children’s nonfiction should be written. It is full of active verbs, sensory details, and a lovely thread of repetition (about flying) that keeps the reader turning pages. Plus, following the life of a single bee gives it a relatable and memorable structure.
If readers will find anything objectionable about the book at all, it is that it takes the honeybee’s life right to her end. Her death is sad, but tastefully done. The next spread shows a new worker emerging.
Illustrations in Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera are amazing!
Eric Rohmann’s illustrations knock it out of the ballpark. The detailed close-ups make the reader feel like they are right in the hive with the bees. The gatefold-spread section of the honeybee going on her first flight is beyond breathtaking.
The backmatter includes a guide to honeybee anatomy, a section about helping honeybees, and more facts about honeybees.
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera is the ultimate book about these fascinating and important creatures. You don’t want to miss this one!
Fly over to Growing With Science Blog for honey bee STEAM activities (link will be added soon)
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Neal Porter Books (February 4, 2020)
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