Reviews /

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Authored by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Published by Pushkin Children's Books

There is a great buzz around books about bees for children – and with good reason. The decline of the bee population around the world is a real cause for concern and raising awareness of their important role in the ecological system means that hopefully more can be done to protect them.

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera glistens and sparkles like a pot of honey. Candace Fleming’s journey through the life of a honeybee takes the reader from its birth to eventual death, describing in simple, beautiful prose, the extraordinary life of these tiny creatures. The rich vocabulary and the almost poetic structure offer the teacher a rich and plentiful supply of inspiration and ideas for English lessons but more importantly, surrounds the child reader in a symphony of wonderful words which cannot fail to enchant and delight. The information that the text conveys is similarly detailed and involved and both adult and child readers will learn a huge amount about the complexity of the lives of bees. There are two double page spreads at the back of the book which offer further information, including a large diagram of a bee with its body parts labelled and more detailed facts about honeybees. A short list of books and websites will be extremely useful for both teachers and children.

What really sets Honeybee apart is the quality of Eric Rohmann’s illustrations which perfectly complement the text. He has depicted the bee at many times as its actual size which allows his detailed oil painted illustrations to really capture the intricate details of the bee and its surroundings. The use of scale is a powerful device which makes a great impact on the reader. However, it would have been useful to have been given an idea of what scale he has used so that readers could have an idea of the actual size of the bees he depicts in such magnified detail.

An excellent addition to the classroom library for a text to inspire but also to both reading and writing lessons as a model or mentor text.