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THE BEE-MAN OF ORN by Frank R. Stockton Kirkus Star


by Frank R. Stockton & illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-2239-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Maurice Sendak’s 1964 illustrations for this 19th-century tale capture its wit, but Lynch evokes its warmth, casting its eccentric protagonist as a wizened old gent with laugh wrinkles around his eyes and wildly flyaway gray hair. Happily ensconced amid swarms of bees, a hermit is driven to find out what he used to be by a passing student sorcerer’s opinion that he’s been transformed from—something. Was he an aristocrat? A monster? The Bee-man’s quest for an answer takes him through vast, atmospheric painted landscapes and intricately detailed habitations; after rescuing a baby, he decides that that’s what he once was, and now wants to be again. Local magicians oblige him—but years later the same sorcerer passes the Bee-man’s tumbledown cottage, and finds him, grown again into an old man and happily surrounded by bees. There’s a lesson here, probably, but young readers will respond more to Lynch’s stunning art, and the Bee-man’s simple courage. Packaged with a tour of the artist’s studio on DVD (not seen). (Illustrated short story. 9+)