cover image THE BEE-MAN OF ORN


Frank Richard Stockton, , illus. by P.J. Lynch. . Candlewick, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2239-8

Lynch's (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey ) sprawling watercolor paintings are as elegant and enticing as Stockton's (The Lady or the Tiger? ) late-19th-century folktale. The Bee-man, a shriveled old gent, keeps to himself except for the countless bees who share his house. One day a Junior Sorcerer tells the Bee-man that he has been transformed—though the young man cannot tell him from what, exactly—and says that if the old fellow learns what he initially was, this student of magic will "see that you are made all right again." Strapping a bee-filled hive to his back, the Bee-man sets out on a journey to ascertain his original form, telling himself, "When I see it, I shall be drawn toward it." Rich in detail and period flair, Lynch's luminous art imaginatively conveys the disparate locations to which the man's quest takes him. He first visits a "fair domain" featuring topiary-filled gardens and elegantly dressed folk; and then ventures into dark, ominous caverns hidden in a towering mountain, home to "dragons, evil spirits, and horrid creatures of all kinds." Here his bees help him rescue a baby from the clutches of a monstrous dragon, an experience that leads the aged man to the discovery of exactly what he was transformed from—and desires to become again. Thematically and visually, this is an enchanting work, one that will have the audience clamoring for a repeat reading almost immediately. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

FYI : Included with each book is a DVD , Making Fairy Tales, featuring Lynch in a step-by-step demonstration of how he creates a painting.