Cover Reveal: The King of Bees by Lester Laminack
Waiting on a new book is something like waiting for a baby to arrive. There is much excitement and great anticipation. Though you know both parents, you are eagerly waiting to see that new little face in the world. Getting that first glimpse of the cover (and all the illustrations on the interior) for The King of Bees made my heart sing. Jim LaMarche so aptly captures the luminous glow of the Lowcountry and brings Henry and Aunt Lilla to life on each page.
Henry is a young boy living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with his Aunt Lilla who is a beekeeper. His innate curiosity and longing to be helpful feed his desire to get closer to the bees. But Aunt Lilla reminds him that he has to be patient. He passes the time helping Aunt Lilla with chores in the garden, gathering eggs from the henhouse, and peppering her with questions to feed his hungry mind. Readers will learn along with Henry about the inner life of a hive and the important role honeybees play in our world. Each time Aunt Lilla steps into the bee suit and approaches the hive Henry observes and listens from his watching stump. He becomes convinced that there is some magic in that bee suit that allows Aunt Lilla to talk with the bees. When Henry and Aunt Lilla notice a lot of activity around the hive one morning she surmises the bees are about to swarm and a new queen will emerge. Henry’s longing to be helpful, his growing knowledge of bees, and his belief in the magic held in that bee suit lead him to take action in an attempt to keep the bees at home. I hope the events that follow will surprise and delight your readers.
This story began when someone shared a childhood memory about a swarm of bees. That spark set my wheels in motion. As I wrote I quickly realized that I needed much more knowledge about honeybees if this story were ever to be anything more than a few pages of notes in my notebook. So I began reading everything I could find on honeybees. I read university websites, the newsletters of beekeeper groups, and information shared by national and international organizations involved in beekeeping. I also collected and pored over a text set of children’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written about honeybees and beekeeping. I became that person who would fill your ears with bee information if you had not been forewarned to avoid asking me a question about bees. I have become absolutely fascinated with honeybees. All that information layered into a story about a small boy gives this book a rich, true, quality that will, if I’ve done it right, leave readers with interest and questions that will drive them toward more reading and inquiry of their own.
I am delighted with the end result of this book. The art is the perfect match for the tone and mood of the text. And the setting is so beautifully rendered in Jim’s work. As for the writing, I have strived to achieve a lovely balance between story and information that holds the potential to lead the read toward becoming an advocate and an ambassador for honeybees.
Lester L. Laminack is a specialist in children’s literacy and professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Lester has written many books and articles for children and educators and is a popular and sought-after speaker at professional meetings and conferences nationwide. He lives in North Carolina.
Jim LaMarche is one of the most talented artists working in children’s books today. His many successful books include Rainbabiesand Albert, which was selected as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book. He also wrote and illustrated Raft and Pond. Jim lives in Santa Cruz, California.