Hurley applies her trademark minimalist approach to a spring-through-fall sojourn with a colony of honeybees.
The text has but 15 words, one per double-page spread: “buzz / swarm / explore / find / build / lay / feed / grown / fly / collect / pollinate / guard / sting / keep / honey.” Muted, matte illustrations depict the action: The swarm flies above early-summer flowers till the bees happen upon a hollow tree, where they establish their hive. The queen lays eggs; workers feed the larvae. The metamorphosed adult bees collect pollen and nectar from tangerine-colored fall blooms and defend the hive from a marauding skunk in order to have honey enough to last the winter. For all the graphic simplicity of Hurley’s images (gardeners will be scratching their heads as to the specific types of some of these flowers), her depiction of bee behavior is accurate. She takes considerable artistic license with the depiction of the hive in unrealistically exposing it within the enormous hole in the tree’s trunk, but the device allows readers to see a curtainlike pane of wax comb within and takes a visual stand against the all-too-common erroneous depiction of a beehive as a wasps’ nest. An author’s note fills in the narrative conveyed by the illustrations, the words of the text helpfully printed in uppercase so that caregivers can expand on each spread for curious listeners.
Simple, beautiful, surprisingly accurate. (Informational picture book. 3-6)