when the bees fly home

Click on image to buy book

Jonathan, an elementary-school boy, is not strong enough to help his father, a beekeeper, with his work, and his father is annoyed. The father seems to prefer Jonathan’s preschool brother, who loves to show off his muscles. The family is struggling financially: a dry spell means less honey to sell.

One day, Jonathan helps his mother make beeswax candles by decorating them with tiny beeswax sculptures. His father is impressed, and starts to appreciate Jonathan’s artistic skill. The decorated candles sell out at the farmer’s market, and Jonathan collects many more orders.  That night, Jonathan and his father enjoy some quiet time on the porch as the rain finally comes down.

This unusual picture book contains bee facts on each page. My sons were interested to learn, for example, that bees’ wings beat 180 times per second.

Another thing I liked about this book is that the parents are a mixed-race couple. This is never mentioned in the story, but the watercolor pictures by Joline McFadden show a fair blond father and a brown-skinned, black-haired mother. It is rare to see a mixed-race couple presented in a picture book in a matter-of-fact way, without a lot of commentary.

You can buy this book from my boys list.