The Honeybee

illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. 48p. S. & S./Atheneum. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481469975.
PreS-Gr 2—Hall celebrates honeybees with a lyrical poem. She hears a bee among the flowers, then finds and follows it as it searches for nectar, gathers pollen, and returns to the hive to dance. She watches other foragers leave as house bees make the nectar into honey. The bees huddle quietly with their queen through the long winter, reemerging in the spring. This simplifies the process slightly, but doesn't diminish the wonder. These well-crafted rhyming couplets beg to be read aloud. Set on gloriously illustrated pages and nicely paced, the text appears to be hand printed in varying fonts, becoming part of Arsenault's light and lively illustrations done in ink, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil. The artist uses neon orange to great effect, highlighting the pollen bees find and carry off. (Adult readers may want to point out that bees see the world's color very differently.) After the busyness of summer work, a wordless spread—a snowy landscape where the hive hangs peacefully from a tree—emphasizes the quiet rest of winter. Yellow-and-black striped endpapers and an embossed cover add to the effect. While the narrative and illustrations will appeal to very young listeners, the back matter, which touches on current threats, seems addressed to older children, suggesting ways in which they can help honeybees survive.
VERDICT A sweet success; purchase for most shelves.

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