Henry learns a lesson in responsibility and nature in this quiet tale of love and honeybees.
Henry lives with his aunt Lilla in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Lilla’s home is a small farm, and the two rely on honey from their beehives and eggs for their henhouse for added income. Henry is fascinated by the honeybees, and he accompanies his aunt whenever possible to watch her work the hives. As Lilla works, she explains the behavior and habits of the bees to Henry, but he’s still too young to help. On his own one day during swarm season, Henry puts on her beekeeping suit so he can visit the hives and help the bees discover the swarm box that Lilla has set up. While putting on Lilla’s beekeeping suit, Henry spills a bottle of “bee drops” (a mysterious liquid that has a pleasing smell to honeybees) on the suit. The bee drops attract the swarm to the much-too-large suit, and Lilla is able to capture it. It’s in this resolution that the story stumbles, as, for all of Lilla’s explanations of beekeeping, the bee drops go undefined. The sentimental author’s note does not fill in that gap. LaMarche’s artwork, a vibrant combination of watercolor and ink, glows and will make many readers want to visit Aunt Lilla’s home.
Visually lovely and tonally appealing, this book will be best used when additional information is available to help with questions. (Picture book. 6-8)