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Animals, Early/Young Readers, NonFiction, Picture Books, STAR OF THE NORTH NOMINEE

THE HONEYBEE by Kirsten Hall Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault…2020 MN STAR OF THE NORTH nominee

The Honeybee is a picture book that tries to detail the annual cycle for a honeybee. The illustrations have a watercolor feel without the washed-out effect that can sometimes happen with that medium.  Everything is in shades of yellow set off by dark black and occasional pinks, which definitely stresses the topic of the book (black and yellow being associated with bees) and carries it consistently throughout.

The best rhyming texts for me are those that combine the specificity of word choice, vocabulary, the sound of the words aloud and the meaning of the words. This text begins promisingly with natural rhymes and a comfortable rhythm.  Unfortunately that only lasts for the first few pages.  Then the rhymes start to become forced, which throws off the rhythm of the words and creates an uncomfortable dissonance between the narrative and the content. The author tries too hard to force the nonfiction facts she wants to convey into a rhyming format and the result is that neither is successful.

By itself The Honeybee has neither the characters or structure for a narrative story nor enough clear, comprehensible exposition to explain pollination, different roles within the hive or the process by which ‘nectar’ is converted to honey. It could definitely be used as an springboard for or accompaniment to a unit on honeybees or pollination but it is ineffective and incomplete on its own.

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