The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi
Illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker
Fred is a beekeeper. He climbs up to the roof of his Brooklyn brownstone, and with the city all around him, he focuses his whole attention on another tiny city, one made up of three houses, each with three stories and thousands of rooms made of wax. Fred inhales the smells of a summer city morning: maple leaves and gasoline and the river and dust. He turns to the tiny city and inhales its smaller sweeter smell -a little like caramel, a little like ripe peaches. The bees are like a family to Freed, he knows everything about them and loves them. He imagines himself flying over Brooklyn with them, looking for flower nectar. When the bees have done their job, Fred collects the honey and pours it into jars to share it with his neighbors. Fred loves the feeling of wonder and surprise he gets from each batch of honey, tasting its delicate sweetness and discovering what flowers have given it its special flavor each year. This time around it is sweet, like linden flowers. It is sharp, like rosemary. It is ever-so-slightly sour. He's delighted to know his bees made it all the way to blueberry bushes to give their honey that special sweet and sour flavor.
The Honeybee Man is a delightful example of realistic fiction. While it reads like a story, it also provides tons of details about the beekeeper's job and the organization and behavior of a beehive. The illustrations by Brooker are beautiful and offer and nice "view" of Brooklyn. The Honeybee Man also offers students a different perspective on urban activities, showing that jobs associated with rural areas, like beekeeping, are actually also carried out within our urban landscape. The end of the book offers a series of facts about honey, honeybees, and beekeepers. It's a beautiful book to share at home and also to include in elementary classroom libraries.