cover image Beekeepers

Beekeepers

Linda Oatman High / Author, Doug Chayka / Illustrator Boyds Mi

Readers will be buzzing with curiosity after turning the pages of this quietly suspenseful story of a girl who helps her grandfather keep bees and harvest their honey. Decked out in the requisite but unearthly-looking protective gear, the beekeepers head to the hives in the bee yard. When some of the bees decide to swarm, quick thinking and calm movements save the day-and the hives. High's (A Christmas Star) spare, poetic descriptions make it easy to imagine a dewy spring morning on the farm. In his picture book debut, Chayka's oil paintings, built up in broad brush strokes, are appropriately steeped in the golden hues of sunshine and honey. The gentle lighting is a key element: because the beekeepers' veils obscure most facial expressions, the artist resourcefully deploys color and composition to set the mood. Children unfamiliar with this type of farming will be fascinated by such equipment as a bee smoker and the box-like hives where the bees build their honeycombs. But most of all, youngsters will marvel at the central characters as they emerge unscathed from a swarm of creatures most people have been taught to fear. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)