By Megan Daley & Max Hamilton
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Megan is well known in the children’s literary and librarian world for her advocacy of children’s reading. Her publications include Raising Readers, about how to nurture a child’s love of books, and Teacher, Teacher, an anthology of stories by Australian authors celebrating inspiring educators.
Max Hamilton is a CBCA and Whitley award-winning illustrator, a graphic designer and most enthusiastically a maker of children’s books. She enjoys noticing the little details in things and loves to get lost in the world of illustration and stories.She has worked with Claire Saxby, Vikki Conley, Kaye Baillie and Catherine Meatheringham. This is her first collaboration with Megan.
The picture book The Beehive is Book 1 of the Nature Storybooks series and they have set a high standard with this dual narrative about Australia’s native stingless bees.
One strand follows Willow, a little girl who is eagerly awaiting the time when her school’s beehive is to be divided, as she has put her name down to receive her own hive. As a member of the Nature Club she works with Groundkeeper Tom and at home with her step-dad to learn as much as possible and to get the garden ready with native shrubs beloved by native bees. When the new hive is taken home Willow chats to the bees on their orientation flight, introducing them to the chickens, the honey bees and the resident lizard and all is well.
The other strand is non-fiction explaining about pollination, the role of bees in the bush and in our own food chain, what a honey box is, and more. Many subject specific terms are illustrated and explained such as hive tool, brood nest , brood comb, hive, foraging, pollen and highlighted in a different bold font. There is an index of 23 words and a glossary of 11 words, both sensible and useful, not intimidating, brief enough to be a manageable way to encourage young readers to become comfortable with using these information tools.
Both strands are chock full of information aimed at satisfying young inquiring minds. The illustrations are detailed and attractive in warm rich tones. Willow and the other humans are always smiling and totally engaged in their work. A special mention for the beautiful endpapers featuring bees and flowers in a repeating pattern which could decorate any child’s room.
Megan’s enthusiasm for this subject is catching as is her passion for communicating to young children. This book will reward all those interested in increasing their knowledge of Australian native species. It will encourage them to create supportive environments in their own backyard and I prophesy that the number of backyard hives for Australian native bees will hugely increase as a result.
I look forward to the next Nature Storybook. Check out their catalogue here.