cover image The Honeybee Man

The Honeybee Man

Lela Nargi, illus. by Kyrsten Brooker, Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-84980-0

In her children's book debut, Nargi presents a leisurely but diverting look at the life of a Brooklyn beekeeper. Readers join elderly Fred as he rises at dawn one July morning and heads to the roof to check his three bee houses. As summer progresses, Fred imagines the activity inside the hive, then carefully harvests jars of rich, sweet "Fred's Brooklyn Honey, Made by Tireless Brooklyn Bees" to share with his neighbors. Copious details are carefully woven into descriptions of Fred's day-to-day activities ("When the bees return to their hives, Fred notices that they are flying slooowly—heavy, now, with nectar"). In sunny, oil-and-collage compositions, Brooker (Math Attack!), inspired by her former Brooklyn neighborhood, captures the bustle of sidewalks and storefronts, as well as the serenity of Fred's rooftop and a green expanse of park. She also does a fine job demonstrating the steps of collecting honey—even the bees' "waggle dances." An endnote and the endpapers provide additional information about bees and beekeepers. Kids should find this easygoing blend of fiction and fact fascinating. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)