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Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Collaborators and Orbus Pictus Award-winners Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann (Giant Squid; Strongheart) crack open the world of the honeybee by following one Apis mellifera (Apis for short) through her short lifespan. The detail and whimsy of the honeybee's biography beautifully portray her as a vital part of Earth's ecosphere, setting up the delicate insect to be appreciated by young readers for her hard work and enormous contributions.

Each page of Fleming's text brims with information, presented with a poetic tone and capped off with a cliff-hanger, egging the reader on to the next stage of life: "Soon she is ready for her next job./ Flying?" Apis must nurse the larvae, tend the queen, build the comb and handle the food. As Fleming narrates Apis's experience guarding the hive, the pace quickens and depicts a fight scene with some "robber" bees. "The two grab hold of each other's legs./ They curl their abdomens./ They roll and grapple./ Apis buzzes, bites, burrows."

Rohmann's striking, life-like oil paintings accompany Fleming's intriguing text. The meticulous detail and large-scale, bug's-eye view emphasize both the honeybee's delicacy and her great importance. Minute features like the veins in her wings and the pollen in her hair are sure to mesmerize young audiences. In contrast, an equally beautiful gatefold reminds readers how tiny she is in the world we inhabit.

This dazzling picture book includes an essay and additional facts in the back matter, culminating in a phenomenal portrait of a tiny but indispensable component of nature--truly a delightful learning experience. --Jen Forbus, freelancer