The Honeybee Man: The Beauty of Bees


The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi and Krysten Brooker

On a quiet summer morning, Fred heads to the roof of his home in Brooklyn where his bee hives are.  With his cup of tea, he spends time with the bees, thinking about the honey they will make for him.  He imagines flying like a bee and looking for nectar.  He encourages the young bees to have courage on their first flights.  He celebrates the older bees as they throw themselves into the air, some stopping to land on his sleeves first to greet him.  He knows they will return full of nectar that then will be made into honey by others in the hive.  At the end of August, Fred harvests the honey from the hives, resulting in golden jars of sweetness that he shares with his neighbors.  This is a book about communities large and small, interwoven together.

The language in this book is lovely and evocative.  It is a book that creates small moments of celebrations.  Here is a passage of Fred’s morning in July greeting the bees:

Fred inhales the smells of a summer city morning: maple leaves and gasoline and the river and dust.  He turns to the tiny city and inhales its smaller, sweeter smell – a little like caramel, a little like ripe peaches.

All of the senses are filled with the experience of urban bee keeping in this book.  It is packed with these sensory moments.  The language is poetic and beautifully detailed.

The mixed-media illustrations have a whimsical feel to them.  Just as the book itself does, they celebrate Brooklyn, urban life, and the bees.  There is a homey, warm feel that is often lacking in books about cities that is a pleasure to see.

Celebrate bee keeping, city life, and community with this book.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.

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