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Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Honeybee, written by Kristen Hall and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster. 2018. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"A dance begins.
The dance is lovely.
The dance goes straight now -
in a line -
a figure eight is the final sign.

As the world struggles to know what is happening to the honeybee, it's important to be cognizant of their plight and find ways to make sure we better support their well-being, and our future. Ms. Hall wants her readers to know how bees manage to do the work they do, how hard they work, and the great value their bring to our lives.

The honeybee makes its way to the beauty of a floral meadow where it is first heard, then seen. It chooses the perfect flower for this visit and begins its work of the day.

"This is the flower the bee has chosen.
This is the flower the pollen grows in.
This is the flower, its color so bright,
its sweet blooming scent calls the bee from its flight."

The work of gathering nectar begins with a long, satisfying sip. Then, it's off to find another flower, and then another. Once full, it returns to the hive where a dance ensues that tells the next bee swarm where to go to do its own work. While the second wave is gone, the returnees fill the honeycomb with all they have gathered. Ah, sweet honey is capped and sealed, awaiting a hungry day when it will provide sustenance.

Winter's arrival is an occasion for rest.

"Come now, rest.
Join our nest.
Huddle and cuddle,
the winter's our test.'

A test it is, but spring eventually stirs the meadow creatures to a new awakening and a renewal of life. The bees begin again in earnest to find the flowers, drink the nectar, and produce the honey.

The beautiful golden colors that permeate its pages and enhance the rhythmic, accessible language  inspire warmth and comfort through mixed-media illustrations by the exceptional Isabelle Arsenault. She helps readers understand the bee's work and the need to protect these tiny, invaluable creatures. A note from the author following the text provides further information and an appeal to help maintain and care for the amazing honeybee.

If we want to keep putting honey on our toast in the morning, we need to do our best to ensure the bees have what they need to do their work. Charming, and just right for reading aloud to your kids.


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