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Monday, January 13, 2014

Flight of the Honey Bee, written by Raymond Huber and illustrated by Brian Lovelock. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2013. $19.00 ages 5 and up

"Scout's wings hum to life, so fast that they are almost invisible, lifting her into the wide sky. She rises in a spiral, up and away from the hive. Scout remembers what she passes as she flies, so later she can return home. She knows the sun will guide her, too."

Scout is just that...she is a scout for the other bees in her hive. She is the one who searches for the flowers that will nourish the hive. In doing so, she must find shelter from weather, from danger and the threat of an early demise. Once she has found the blooms that will sustain her fellow workers and allow them to make the honey that will feed them through the winter, it's a quick trip back to the hive for assistance.

Scout helps the other bees find the meadow:

"Scout is safe inside the hive at last.
She begins a dance on the wax comb.
An audience gathers, captivated by the
floral scent on Scout's body."

As the story is read, young listeners will learn much about the honeybee, its enemies, its importance to nature, and the family support needed to sustain it. The text is informative and lovely. Continuing on, the author explains the importance of Scout's dance in lyrical prose:

"Scout spins a story in dance,
every movement a sentence.
Scout waggles, twists, and turns,
describing the route to the blue meadow.
She pauses only to share samples
of sweet nectar."

Fascinating facts are shared, and promise heightened interest in the plight of the honeybee, as they face colony collapse and we face a world much changed by their declining numbers. The author offers some simple solutions to help increase bee numbers.

The mixed media artwork created by Brian Lovelock is both impressive and inviting, showing Scout in a bold, graphic style finding her way through lovely watercolor autumn scenes that are often delicate and protective. The warmth of the yellows, oranges, golds and reds encourages dreamy observance. The details of the anatomy of the bees and the beehive itself make for a visual feast that matches the feast for the bees themselves.     

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