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The Bee Tree

Children's Literature

"Set in the rain forests of Malaysia, a young boy, Nizam, tells how he replaced his grandfather as the person responsible for harvesting honey from the giant tualang tree. As Nizam confesses the mixture of pride and fear with which he undertakes the 120 foot climb to the bee hives, he also recounts the legend his people have told about how the honey bees came to make their nests up so high. An eight-page reference article at the end of book indicates that the beliefs and rituals the boy reports are accurate representations of those followed by the indigenous people of this region. Photographs accompany the article, while the story itself is illustrated in full colored drawings.

While the people in the story are somewhat stylized, the drawings of the bees and vegetation are clearly meant to approach scientific illustrations. Like The Great Kapok Tree, this book is meant to trigger children's thinking about ecology and the environment. But the structure of The Bee Tree is more complex and may be challenging for primary age children. However, it could be an excellent resource to include in an integrated curriculum unit about the rain forests or about pourquoi legends."

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