cover image The Humblebee Hunter

The Humblebee Hunter

Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Jen Corace. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-1356-0

Hopkinson (Stagecoach Sal) draws upon Charles Darwin's twin loves of nature and children to pen a playful, fictional account of an experiment the great naturalist might have conducted with his offspring. Initial spreads find the young narrator%E2%80%94Darwin's daughter, Henrietta%E2%80%94unwillingly making a honey cake and reflecting on life with her famous father. "We grew up asking what? And why? And how?" When Darwin recruits the eager Etty and her siblings to assist with the "Great Bee Experiment," the tale takes on compelling tone. He assigns each child a humblebee (bumblebee) to follow and count its flower visits for one minute. Enlarged typeface enumerates Etty's bee's landings: "Four, five, six... How quick and sure this tiny creature was," until the one-word ending from her father ("STOP!") surprisingly concludes both experiment and book. With graceful lines and subdued hues, Corace's (Little Pea) illustrations evoke nature's simplicity. Soft closeups of bees and blooms will sweep readers into the garden excitement. Deftly weaving the bee motif throughout, Hopkinson crafts a beautiful glimpse into the exhilaration of science. Brief notes on Darwin and his family are included. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)