cover image The King of Bees

The King of Bees

Lester L. Laminack, illus. by Jim LaMarche. Peachtree, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-953-7

Laminack (Three Hens and a Peacock) proffers a gentle tale full of Southern charm about a boy whose aunt is a beekeeper. Henry is fascinated by his Aunt Lilla’s hives and by the rapport she has with her bees. “Sister bees hum when they’re working,” she explains. “If they have news to tell, they do their talking-dance.” There’s a queen, she tells him, but no king. Henry’s awkward attempts to help his “sisters” and his aunt culminate in a chance to save her hive in an unexpected way—an occasion that calls for Henry to stay calm when he becomes covered with bees. Aunt Lilla is independent, knowledgeable about the creatures she keeps, and able to explain complicated concepts to Henry in a way he (and readers) can understand. LaMarche (Pond) dwells on the beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry. His ink-and-watercolor spreads are light and dreamy, with evocative sunrise shades and detailed looks at beekeeping equipment and the bees themselves. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)