They are rarely an inch long but can fly fifteen miles per hour. Their wings are known to beat more than 200 times per second. This is why we can hear them buzzing as they move from place to place.
We don't see them in the winter months as snow covers the ground, icy winds blow, and temperatures are chilly. In fact, as soon as the temperatures fall below fifty degrees, bees return to the hive surrounding the queen. With the movement of their wings they can heat their home and keep the queen warm. They get their energy from the honey they've stored. In her newest release, Beehive (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, January 7, 2020), Jorey Hurley speaks to readers in the simplest of terms, single words, about the formation of a honeybee home and how its inhabitants flourish.
A single bee moves among flowers. It is joined by several others to form a swarm and to swarm. They are seeking a place for a new home. A hollow in a tree looks promising. Slowly like pieces in a puzzle they form a honeycomb.
The queen places an egg in each cell. As the new life grows in those cells, it is feed. When the cells open, a new bee flies to take its place in the life of the hive.
From flower to flower bees collect nectar and pollen. Some of the pollen remains on their bodies and encourages new flowers to grow as they fly from blossom to blossom. Other bees stay at the hive. They protect it from honey-hungry animals. Still more make honey, lots of honey. They need it when snow covers the ground, icy winds blow, and temperatures are chilly.
With fifteen meticulously chosen words, author Jorey Hurley brings readers into the realm of honeybees. Each of the first fourteen words focuses on an action; all leading to the final noun. These words invite us to supply more narrative. It becomes a mental question and answer working together with the images. It's a brilliant technique.
Rendered digitally in Photoshop the graphic design throughout the book, seen first on the open and matching dust jacket and book case, is superb. While the elements are large and bold, notice the pollen collecting on the legs of the bees as they work on the flowers. The white space becomes an element framing and illuminating the other colors. The title text, flowers and bees are varnished on the front of the dust jacket.
To the left, on the back, portions of leaves emerge from the bottom. The stems hold up purple flowers with broad petals and golden centers. A single bee flies over the right flower. These items are placed against the white background.
On white on the opening and closing endpapers are sixteen bees, nine on the left and seven on the right, in various positions of flight. The image from the back of the jacket and case is shown again on the left of the double-page picture with additional flowers on the right for the title page. Each double-page picture in this book takes us immediately into the scene which is a reflection of the shown single word.
White space accents a field with flower and a single bee. In the next illustration we move closer to see more bees gathering. Jorey Hurley shifts her perspectives to keep readers actively engaged. For the word find, we are given a panoramic view of several scenes as the swarm flies toward the hollow in a large tree. In the subsequent visuals we are close and inside that hollow captivated by the tasks of the bees.
One of my many favorite illustrations is for the word explore. In this picture we wander among a sea of hues of green, white and purple. The bees hum and drift among clusters of bushy white blooms created by a multitude of white, layered dots and tall spiky stems of deep lavender with long green leaves. There is no sky, only this expanse of flora.
Beehive written and illustrated by Jorey Hurley is an adventure into the lives of creatures essential to life on our precious planet. In an author's note on the final page an expanded narrative is fashioned from all the words used in the book, explaining what is happening in each image. There is mention of the challenges facing wild and domestic bee populations and conservation efforts. I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections. (If you have not read her other books, Nest, Ribbit, Every Color Soup, Hop, Skyscraper and Fetch, I encourage you to do so.)
To learn more about Jorey Hurley and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website. Jorey Hurley has accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view interior images, including one of my favorite ones. In the video below Jorey Hurley talks about her first book and a little bit about her process.
Please take a few moments to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to learn about the titles selected this week by those participating in the 2020 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. This week Alyson showcases nonfiction releases for the months of January and February.