cover image Swarm of Bees

Swarm of Bees

Lemony Snicket, illus. by Rilla Alexander. Little, Brown, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-39282-2

A boy shies a tomato at a hive of bees, releasing a furious swarm. Snicket’s narrator (The Bad Mood and the Stick) addresses the bees: “You are so angry! What will you do?” Alexander (A Bear Sat on My Porch Today) shows the throng as hundreds of black, gray, and yellow dots sweeping across the pages, seeking their assailant. Slice-of-life scenes spotlight characters whom the bees might sting while the text lists reasons why they shouldn’t—a sailor has “been on a ship for nine months,” a cat is attempting “to hide in the grass.” Despite the explanations, the cross-looking boy, who himself resembles a bee, hurls tomatoes at some of them. The narrator cheers from the sidelines: “Swarm of bees, are you going to sting the boy? He keeps throwing tomatoes!” In a cacophonous climax, boy, bees, and victims race around town. A beekeeper wrangles the bees; a parent calms the boy. (“It can feel good to be angry,” notes the text. “It can feel better to stop.”) The message—people don’t have to be victim to their emotions—is overshadowed by the all-out, Keystone Cops-style mayhem, exuberantly illustrated with Alexander’s clear-cut geometric figures and bright traffic-sign colors. Ages 4–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]