Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kid Konnection: Honey-themed Picture Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you two fun picture books that reference "honey" and honeybees.

Summary: Every morning, Fred climbs three flights of stairs—up to his rooftop in Brooklyn, New York—and greets the members of his enormous family: "Good morning, my bees, my darlings!" His honeybee workers are busy—they tend the hive, feed babies, and make wax rooms. They also forage in flowers abloom across Brooklyn . . . so that, one day, Fred can make his famous honey, something the entire neighborhood looks forward to tasting. Lela Nargi's beautifully written story—accompanied by Kyrsten Brooker's collage-style illustrations—offers an inside look at the life of an endearing beekeeper and the honey-making process. -- Schwartz and Wade

A few months ago, I saw a review for THE HONEYBEE MAN by Lela Nargi and illustrated Krysten Brooker on She is Too Fond of Books' blog, and I had a feeling that Booking Son and I would enjoy this book. THE HONEYBEE MAN tells the story of Fred, a beekeeper who lives in Brooklyn (of all places!) It is filled with lots of facts (and just enough fiction) to make it an educational and very fun picture book.

I just loved THE HONEYBEE MAN, probably more so than Booking Son although he did enjoy it. Since I knew next-to-nothing about honeybees and the making of honey, I was actually really "into" this story. I appreciated learning about a beekeeper, but I also loved how the story was written. It was informative and poetic at the same time. For example, the author gave detailed descriptions about making honey; and then she juxtaposed the busy bees and their hives with the bustling crowds in Brooklyn. It was a great mix of fact and fiction.

As I mentioned earlier, THE HONEYBEE MAN was just chock full of interesting facts. Even the end papers are filled with diagrams of bees, bee stingers, hives, the waggle dance and much more. There is also a section at the end of the book which gives "some amazing facts about honey, honeybees, and beekeepers." I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned from this picture book.

But this book was also a bit whimsical. Fred was a daydreamer and allowed himself to imagine his bees (and himself) flying over New York City in search of nectar. He so wishes he could talk to and understand his bees. However, the book eventually returned to the business of making honey. I just loved how Fred thanked his bees for the honey and then shared it with all of his neighbors.

I thought it was interesting to learn that the author wrote THE HONEYBEE MAN because she was inspired by two apiarists who live in Brooklyn. Evidently, urban beekeeping is a growing trend (who knew?) and I love that Ms. Nargi wrote a story about such a sweet apiarist.

THE HONEYBEE MAN is a must-read picture book for elementary age children. It's a perfect introduction to bees and beekeeping as well as the making of honey, and I think it's ideal for the classroom.

Summary: A little girl is on her way to gather berries, berries to make jam when she gets home. A little bee is on its way to gather nectar, nectar to make honey for her honeycomb. Their meeting in the same berry patch shines a gentle light on a common childhood fear from two points of view. This picture book provides a sweet way to convey even to the youngest child the importance of understanding and respecting all creatures. -- Tricycle Press

JAM & HONEY by Melita Morales and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant is another cute picture book. It's geared for a younger audience than THE HONEYBEE MAN, probably three to five years old, but it still has a very special message. The book begins with a young girl who is picking berries so she can make jam. She comes across a honeybee who is gathering nectar and she immediately becomes very afraid that the bee will sting her. She decides to stay still so the bee won't bother her. Part two of the book tells the same story; however, this time, it's through the eyes of the honeybee. The bee is equally afraid of the little girl and determines that there are enough vines for the both of them. Both the girl and the bee gather what they need to make jam and honey respectively.

As a mom, I really liked what JAM & HONEY set out to do -- teach children to understand other living creatures. Both the girl and the bee were initially afraid of each other, but they realized the value in staying out of each other's way. In addition, I think this book reinforces the importance in respecting others -- even when you might fear them.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the illustrations. They are just adorable. Both the little girl and the bee are quite cute, and I can't stop smiling about the expressions on the girl's face when she sees the bee. The pictures most definitely enhanced the story!

Highly recommend for preschoolers!

Thanks to the publishers for sending copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've always liked books about bees and honey and also those colorful honey servers you can get, which is all very weird since I rarely eat honey! But it sounds like I would love The Honeybee Man with all the facts in it!

My book today, Liesl & Po, is for middle graders, but is enchanting for all ages.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

My son loves learning about animals and mostly brings home books from the school library about them. He would really like The Honeybee Man and probably wonder if there are any in our city!

bermudaonion said...

My grandmother kept bees and my mother grew up attending the hives, so I've heard LOTS of bee stories through the years. Both of these books look delightful to me!

Carol said...

They both sound delightful! Funny about a beekeeper in the middle of Brooklyn!

LitLass said...

They sound great! I think we'll see if both are at the library.

Sherrie said...

Both these books sound really good. I'll have to check them out. Have a great day!

Just Books

Beth Hoffman said...

Terrific review, Julie! I have The Honeybee Man on my Christmas list for a sweet little boy I know.

Nan said...

Thank you! I want to read both of them. I'm a big believer in, and fan of, honey.

Anonymous said...

While Princess Grace (my four-year-old granddaughter) might be a little young for all the facts in The Honeybee Man it sounds like one I would really enjoy. There is a guy at our church who (with the help of his bees) makes many jars of honey each year and gives them away. He also mans the Honey Sundae booth at the county fair. It's tradition each year to get a honey sundae there. Vanilla ice cream, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sunflower seed kernals. Yum! Yum!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

So happy you liked THE HONEYBEE MAN :) Fun that you were able to tie two honey-themed reviews this week ... how sweet (ugh, a pun!)

Peaceful Reader said...

I love honey and am blessed to have a stepfather who is a beekeeper. We get lots of fresh local honey! I'll have to find these books to read to my daughter.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

These books look so inviting and interesting...I'm always on the lookout for fun non-fiction books for my 7 year old...she can't get enough!! Adding these to her Christmas list :)

Heather said...

Honey is so wonderful. My sister's father-in-law kept bees for decades. She has kept me supplied with the most tasty of honeys. These books sound wonderful.

Christine said...

I love anything to do with bees and honey, too! Interesting how so many of us share this adoration. These children's books sound really wonderful.