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SWARM OF BEES by Lemony Snicket Kirkus Star


by Lemony Snicket ; illustrated by Rilla Alexander

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-316-39282-2
Publisher: Little, Brown

An angry kid wreaks havoc until a father’s restorative embrace brings love and forgiveness to child and community.

Tomato in hand, spite on his face, a young boy pulls his tomato-laden wagon across the front endpapers, straight for a bees’ nest. Readers will delight in the title page’s payoff, as the nest sways from the tomato’s impact and hostile bees pour forth. Through the town they fly with the boy, gauging possible targets: a sailor and his mother, workers, pets, apartment dwellers. All are considered by the clever narrator, who uses nursery rhyme–esque repetition. But then it’s revealed: The boy stung all the targets with his tomatoes! The aggrieved neighbors and bees now chase the child across a map full of tomato-splattered evidence. Acting as a metaphor for the emotional states of the characters, the bees are soon caught and calmed by a beekeeper while the boy is soothed by his father’s warm and loving embrace. The artwork, done with ink, rubber stamps, and digital collage, perfectly enhances the text, balancing its emotional depth with comedic beats. Rarely does a design so fully consider how images tell a story from cover to cover, from the swarm leading the eyes to the ingenious use of shapes, color, patterns, negative space, and framing. Mischief-makers will be captivated by its humor and promise of unconditional love and forgiveness; their caregivers will appreciate the exploration of emotions and possible responses.

A witty, thought-provoking triumph.

(Picture book. 4-8)