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The Bee Tree Paperback – May 4, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The newest gem from Polacco's treasure chest of family stories extolls the virtues of reading--and of taking a study break. Young Mary Ellen would rather be "outdoors running and playing" than indoors with a book. Sympathetic to her feelings, her grandfather suggests that they find a bee tree. The Michigan woods literally buzz with activity as Mary Ellen and Grampa chase a pollen-laden bee to its far-off hive, picking up curious neighbors and passers-by along the way. Before long the original pair becomes a "thundering stampede of goats, buggies, people and bikes" in search of honey. Polacco's rollicking text provides a bubbly, adventurous tone for her cumulative romp. Boisterous color brings to life the characters' old-fashioned garb and the unspoiled lushness of the rural 19th-century setting. Fine pencil detail highlights stray pieces of hair blown back by the breeze, and the joy and determination on the faces of the honey hunters. Like Mary Ellen, readers will emerge refreshed from this respite, ready to seek out new adventures. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-- Polacco has created another charming picture book featuring a child learning from a grandparent in an idyllic pastoral setting. Mary Ellen complains that she is tired of reading. Her grandfather replies that ". . . this is just the right time to find a bee tree!" They chase bees through the Michigan countryside, are soon joined, a la "The Gingerbread Man," by a number of bystanders, and are finally led to the hive. At the end of the story, Grampa drops a bit of honey on a book's cover and tells Mary Ellen to compare its sweetness to that which is found inside: "Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things adventure, knowledge, and wisdom through the pages of a book!" While the message may not be as emotionally resonant as the themes found in Thunder Cake (Philomel, 1990) or Babushka's Doll (S. & S., 1990), both the writing and artwork are fresh and inviting. There is a marvelous specificity to the names and places found within the story, and the pacing is appropriately reckless. The double-page spreads are done in Polacco's distinctive multimedium style and are beautifully composed. Her use of white space sets off the clear yet unusual colors. Well worth pursuing. --Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD680L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (May 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698116968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698116962
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Patricia Polacco, in her story The Bee Tree, tells a tale that emphasizes the important value of learning for its own sake. In this story, a young girl, Mary Ellen, tells her grandfather that she is tired of reading, that she would rather be outdoors running and playing.
"In that case," responds her grandfather, " it must be time to find a bee tree."
The grandfather goes outside with Mary Ellen, takes a sealed glass jar with him and leads his granddaughter to a garden full of bees pollinating flowers. The grandfather uses the jar to capture a number of buzzing creatures. He informs Mary Ellen that the insects will lead them to a hive full of the sweetest honey she will ever taste. As the grandfather lets the first bee escape, the chase begins.
Some of the most intriguing characters join in on the chase when they see what the grandfather and the granddaughter are doing. They see some of the most interesting landmarks as they run after the bees that lead to the tree that holds the sweet reward. When they finally reach their destination, the grandfather knows just the right procedures that enable him to pull the honey safely out of the hive. After he acquires the honey, he invites everyone back to his house for a celebration.
During the party, the grandfather takes Mary Ellen away from the crowd. He says quietly to her, "Now child, I am going to show you something what my father showed me, and his father before him."
He spoons a dab of honey onto the cover of a book. "Taste," he says, almost in a whisper.
"There is such sweetness inside of that book, too. Such things ... adventure, knowledge, wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them.
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Format: Hardcover
The Bee Tree is a great book to read to a child who is starting school or who may be having trouble with a particular subject. This story stresses the importance of gaining knowledge through reading, especially knowledge that doesn't come easily. Curl up with your child and a snack including honey to add a little oomph! to the message. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
This story opens with Mary Ellen reading to her Grampa--and bored. "Feel like running, do you?" he asks, suggesting that they instead find a bee tree.

The story transforms into "he went that-a-way." As in A Fly Went By, lots of people and animals chase an insect (well, in this case, several bees) through pages of glorious illustrations to find their quarry deep in Dunks Woods. They smoke the bees to calm them, retrieve honey combs and go home. Everyone gets tea, biscuits and honey.

When the crowds leave, Grampa takes Mary Ellen inside and spoons some honey onto the cover of a book.

"Taste," he whispers. "There is such sweetness inside that book too! Adventure, knowledge, wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them.... You must chase these things through the pages of a book!"

Little under the sun is as sweet as a thing that teaches a child to love books. Alyssa A. Lappen
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Format: Hardcover
Patricia Polacco is, to my mind, one of the finest children's book authors working today. Her mind is endlessly inventive and she manages to convey important truths and vital life lessons without ever once descending into preachiness or condescencion.
Such is the case with "The Bee Tree." Polacco combines her usual rollicking, active illustrations with text that rambles and gamboles about all over the place. Mary Ellen is a little girl who's bored by reading and just wants to be outside running around. Her grandfather, through the course of a shaggy-dog-story-chase about hunting for honey, manages to convey to her the limitless things she can learn via books. The lesson is clear without being pedantic.
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Format: Paperback
"The Bee Tree" is another of Patricia Polacco's superb explorations of intergenerational friendship, and the significance of culture and tradition. Her expressive, folksy, slightly loopy style are all her own, and she has long been one of my favorite illustrators. Here, the warm, homey pictures just draw you into the story, and suffuse it with the familiarity of a family heirloom. That's part of the magic here: Polacco's stories and colors are so vivid and personal that they seem like par t of your own history, when really she is merely honoring everyone's personal history in general. The colors are vibrant and soft at the same time, the narration has action and unique characterizations, and the obliquely offered message is even more powerful for it's brevity. Very definitely recommended, and I encourage you to discover more of her work!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was such a cool story!! I loved it. It captures the fun and adventure and the love of nature of childhood. I had never heard of finding honey like this. And they don't kill any bees or take very much honey or ruin the hive. They take just a little. So it's not that bad. It's an amazing book and captures an emotion like patricia police always manages to do soo well. It is like the emotion is contained in the book like a little miracle. Amazing feat. Great book!
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