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Friday, April 20, 2012

These Bees Count! Written by Alison Formento and illustrated by Sarah Snow. Albert Whitman & Company, Thomas Allen. 2012. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Juice inside a bee's stomach changes the nectar into honey," said Farmer Ellen. "Bees spit the honey into a honeycomb made from beeswax. Then worker bees dry the new honey by flapping their wings faster than we can blink.."

Following up on their 2010 book This Tree Counts, Alison Formento and Sarah Snow bring bees to life for their young audience. It's another field trip and the destination is Busy Bee Farm. Mr. Tate is keen, his class is excited and they all have much to learn.

The kids suit up for protection from stings and they follow Farmer Ellen out to the hives where they learn about the bees themselves, about pollination and about making honey. There's counting here, too. As the class learns, so does the reader. There's a lot to know about these industrious, tiny creatures who do the wonderful work that benefits each and every one of us!

As the children listen they can hear the bees buzz, and they can even hear what they are saying:

"We stop for a drink where SIX farmhands water a crop of raspberries."

In a note at the end, Alison Formento adds details about the important role that bees play in terms of the agriculture industry, and includes intriguing and little known facts about the life of bees. She describes their dances, the way the hive works and their various tasks within it. She mentions colony collapse which remains a mystery to many scientist and apiarists.

The digital images created by Sarah Snow allow young readers a chance to count, to take note of the work done by bees, and to see the natural beauty of a bee's habitat.

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