Formento and Snow successfully collaborate again (This Tree Counts! 2010) as the environmentally aware Mr. Tate takes his class on a field trip to Busy Bee Farm.
As in their previous text, counting has a dual purpose, with “1, 2, 3” taking a backseat to education. This time, Farmer Ellen helps the children suit up in beekeeping gear, then teaches the class about bees, apiaries and pollination. She encourages the children to listen to the bees’ buzz about their work: “We find three wild strawberries bursting with sweetness. / Four apple blossoms tickle us with soft petals.” Readers learn along with the class how bees transform nectar into honey and how that honey is extracted. A final author’s note goes into more detail about the vital importance of honeybees to agriculture, as well as telling readers more fascinating facts about bees, including their dances, their hierarchy within the hive and the jobs they do. A final paragraph mentions colony collapse disorder. The digital look of the illustrations detracts slightly, catching readers between the nature theme of the text and the rather sterilized artwork. Still, the adventures of this multicultural class of kids are sure to interest readers, and Snow makes it easy to identify and count the items in the pictures.
After learning all about how bees count, readers will be counting on Mr. Tate’s class to give them another environmental armchair trip. (Picture book. 4-7)