The Honeybee Man

by Lela Nargi (Author) Kyrsten Brooker (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

"Eccentric and unusual with an appealing, gentle charm," raves Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review.

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.

A Junior Library Guild Selection, a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year, a Cook Prize Honor Book, and a NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
"Eccentric and unusual with an appealing, gentle charm. (Picture book. 5-10)" Kirkus Reviews --

Publishers Weekly

In her children's book debut, Nargi presents a leisurely but diverting look at the life of a Brooklyn beekeeper. Readers join elderly Fred as he rises at dawn one July morning and heads to the roof to check his three bee houses. As summer progresses, Fred imagines the activity inside the hive, then carefully harvests jars of rich, sweet "Fred's Brooklyn Honey, Made by Tireless Brooklyn Bees" to share with his neighbors. Copious details are carefully woven into descriptions of Fred's day-to-day activities ("When the bees return to their hives, Fred notices that they are flying slooowly--heavy, now, with nectar"). In sunny, oil-and-collage compositions, Brooker (Math Attack!), inspired by her former Brooklyn neighborhood, captures the bustle of sidewalks and storefronts, as well as the serenity of Fred's rooftop and a green expanse of park. She also does a fine job demonstrating the steps of collecting honey--even the bees' "waggle dances." An endnote and the endpapers provide additional information about bees and beekeepers. Kids should find this easygoing blend of fiction and fact fascinating. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--Although most people probably associate honeybees with fields of flowers in the countryside, Fred tends his hives on the rooftop of his home in Brooklyn. From there the intrepid worker bees fly out to gather nectar from backyard flowers and blossoming bushes. Fred follows them in his imagination, creating pictures that allow readers to view scenes inside the hives and learn about how the bees work together. At the end of summer Fred collects and processes the honeycomb to produce jars of amber honey that he shares with his neighbors. His affection for his bees is evident in the warm tones of Brooker's collage and oil illustrations as well as in the words of the sweet, lyrical text. Nargi incorporates basic facts about honeybees and beekeeping into her narrative and supplies two additional pages of information following Fred's story. Pair this with Laurie Krebs's story about beekeeping in the country in The Beeman (Barefoot, 2008) or Lori Mortensen's look at wild bees in In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009) for other views about how and where bees produce honey. However, Nargi's book can definitely stand on its own for its unusual glimpse of beekeeping in an urban setting.--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2011
Lela Nargi
LELA NARGI writes about science for kids for publications like Muse, Science News for Students, and Highlights. She's also the author of The Honeybee Man, a picture book about an urban beekeeper that takes place in her home borough of Brooklyn, New York, and Above and Beyond, a middle grade companion book to the exhibit of the same name that originated at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, about the history and future of flight.

Contributor and expert ARIANNA SOLDATI was born in Milan, Italy. By the time she turned three, she was already hooked on volcanoes -- and she still is! She is now a Ph.D. candidate, a.k.a. a volcanologist in training, at the University of Missouri. While studying lava flows, Soldati got the chance to do extensive field work all over the world (from California to Central America to the Indian Ocean), sometimes witnessing volcanic eruptions as they occurred. She also spends a lot of time in the laboratory making her own lava (aka remelting rock samples) and sharing her findings with both other scientists and the general public.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication date
March 20, 2011
BISAC categories
JUV029000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | General
JUV002140 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Insects, Spiders, etc.
Library of Congress categories
Bee culture
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book
Students K-12 2012 - 2012
Cook Prize
Honor Book
Bank Street College of Education
Best Book of the Year

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