Review of Flight of the Honey Bee by Huber (2013). I’m always a little leery of informational texts that humanize or anthropomorphize animals or non-human animals/things, but Huber’s narrative of a honey bee named Scout out hunting for nectar is conservative on this aspect. Huber doesn’t attribute feelings or thoughts to Scout in a human-like way, but instead has clearly used research to describe Scout’s actions as she searches for nectar, seeks refuge from a hail storm, and communicates to her sister bees through dance-like movements. The captions for the illustrations are non-narrative stating related facts about the honey bees. Primary grade students would enjoy listening to Scout’s adventure. Huber’s text could also be a mentor for intermediate grade students. He has clearly used research to create this narrative – and this could make for an important discussion with students who are “applying” the research they have done to a creative, but still informational piece of writing.
There is one aspect of this book that bothered me. On the very first page of the text – just inside the book cover and before the title page, there is a note about how the honey bee “may be one of the most important (creatures) for life on earth” and then another about “a honey bee can’t live alone” – it’s part of a family and has many jobs in its lifetime. As I read this – I developed an expectation about what this book would be about, BUT that’s not at all what this book is about. The book is simply about Scout’s journey to find nectar and return to the hive. The only mention of pollen is the pollen that sticks to her body when she visits a flower and she spreads the pollen as she “zigs and zags from flower to flower,” but there is no explanation of why this is vital. Perhaps this is why these notes were on the first page of the text – even before the title page. But then at the end of the text, there is a “save the bees” note focused on the critical role bee pollination plays in the world with tips for helping bees. In addition, the author’s info includes a note about how he wanted to write this book when he “realized how humans and bees are partners.” The main text does not explain pollination (adequately), colony collapse disorder, or the partnership between humans and bees. As a result, I think these points may be lost on the reader.
That said – the gist (main idea at the text level) of the primary text is that a honey bee plays a vital role to the survival of the hive as she journeys alone to find nectar, spreading pollen, averting danger, and returning to the hive to communicate to the other bees about the location of the nectar. Like I wrote earlier – a good read aloud and mentor text for writing.