The Humblebee Hunter

The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Jen Corace

Told from the perspective of Etty, one of Charles Darwin’s daughters, this book is an invitation into the lives of the Darwin family.  Etty does not want to stuck inside with her mother and Cook learning to make honey cake.  She would much rather be outside with her father helping with his scientific observations.  The children grew up asking questions just like their father.  They measured worm holes, experimented with seeds and salt water, counted snakes, and captured moths.  So when her father appeared at the door and asked her to bring out the flour shaker, Etty happily did so.  The question was how many flowers a humblebee would visit in a minute.  The flour would make the bees the children would be observing more easily seen.  And what is the answer to the question?  You will just have to read the book to find out or dust your own humblebee with flour!

I was immediately charmed by the illustrations of this book.  They have an old-fashioned feel merged with a modern edge.  The colors used are vintage and immediately place the story in the correct era, but the illustrations themselves are crisp and add interest.  Hopkinson’s text is equally successful.  The pacing is varied which makes for an interesting read.  From the slow pace when Etty is inside baking and remembering her father’s stories to the brisk pace and excitement of following a bee from flower to flower. 

This book will make every child want to have dust a bee with flour and observe them.  It is a book that has you itching to head outdoors and measure your own worm holes or capture moths.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Charlotte’s Library.

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2 thoughts on “The Humblebee Hunter

  1. I recently reviewed this book, too, Tasha–and I agree that the illustrations are a lovely combination of old-fashioned and modern. I couldn’t even wait for the kids to do my bee observations, either–although we’ll definitely try that experiment again!


  2. It will be interesting to read this alongside Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman! Certainly, they’re written for different ages, but I wonder how their presentations of the Darwin family compare.



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