The Humblebee Hunter

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Overview

On a beautiful day, the last thing Etty wants to do is sit inside baking honey cake. Shed much rather be outside exploring with her father, Charles Darwin.

Many are familiar with Darwins theory of evolution, but few know Darwin the family man. In writing The Humblebee Hunter, Deborah Hopkinson relied on research to create a lyrical fictional account of Charles Darwin at home with his children, discovering the wonders of their own back yard. Told from the perspective of Darwin's ...

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Overview

On a beautiful day, the last thing Etty wants to do is sit inside baking honey cake. Shed much rather be outside exploring with her father, Charles Darwin.

Many are familiar with Darwins theory of evolution, but few know Darwin the family man. In writing The Humblebee Hunter, Deborah Hopkinson relied on research to create a lyrical fictional account of Charles Darwin at home with his children, discovering the wonders of their own back yard. Told from the perspective of Darwin's daughter Etty, the story portrays a very human side of one of the most revered figures in the history of science.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Etty, daughter of Charles Darwin, tells this fictionalized story of her naturalist father and how the family helps in his study of the creatures around them. Etty takes time out from baking to help him answer the question of how many flowers a humblebee can visit in a minute. When he says "Start," she follows her flour-dusted bee, counting as it goes from blossom to blossom. She has reached number twenty-one when he shouts, "STOP!" Corace carefully creates pictures of the plants and bees with both an esthetic sensitivity and a concern for naturalism. The final double page close-up of the bee amidst some blossoms bursts into our vision along with the single word command. The characters are somewhat stylized and less compelling. The abrupt ending is followed by further information about Darwin and his family. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–5—This fictionalized account of the Darwin household offers readers an introduction to both the renowned naturalist and scientific inquiry. Young Henrietta, who is clearly a kindred spirit, describes some of her father's adventures as well as experiments that she and her siblings performed. "We grew up asking what? and why? and how? When Father studied worms, Lizzie and I stuck knitting needles in the ground to try to measure their holes." Etty is in the kitchen reluctantly learning how to bake a honey cake, and when her father enters the house and sees her covered in flour, shaker in hand, he becomes excited. "I could almost hear his mind buzzing with an idea, a problem, a pattern to figure out-an experiment." The entire family runs out to conduct "The Great Bee Experiment" to determine how many flowers a humblebee visits in a minute. Notes about Darwin and his family are appended. The delicate, stylized illustrations, outlined in black and washed in natural shades of green and brown with spots of color, depict an amiable country Victorian household. Pair this inspiring read-aloud with Peter Sís's The Tree of Life (Farrar, 2003) and encourage students to question and observe the world around them.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
Julie Just
…a lovely reminder for modern children of how much there is to notice just outside the window.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
While his anniversary year is over as of Feb. 12, 2010, Charles Darwin remains an intriguing figure, as evidenced by this imaginative tale told from his daughter's point of view. Hopkinson conjures a lovely summer day and a lively narrator in Henrietta, known as Etty. Stuck inside helping in the kitchen, Etty longs to be outdoors with her ever-inquisitive father. She labors dutifully but is thrilled to be summoned outside, where she joins her father and siblings as they observe the habits of the "humblebees" (aka bumblebees). Using a drift of flour to mark them, each child follows a bee from flower to flower to calculate how many visits it makes per minute. While the author's note acknowledges that her story is fiction, her scientific method is sound and the activity is clearly in keeping with Darwin's wide-ranging interests and methodical approach. Corace's lovely, stylized images feature thin, precise lines filled with browns, greens and ochres, effectively evoking a long-ago time. A charming introduction to a well-known figure and his large but less-familiar family. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423113560
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Lexile: AD610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Hopkinson

Deborah Hopkinson (www.deborahhopkinson.com) is the author of many acclaimed history-based books for children, includingApples to Oregon, an ALA Notable Book, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, winner of the IRA Award, and Stagecoach Sal. She lives in Oregon.

Jen Corace (www.jencorace.com) has illustrated many picture books, including Little Peaand Little Hootby Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Hansel and Gretelby Cynthia Rylant. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Unique Story!

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this book! It is a very unique children's book depicting the life of Darwin and his children while they observe "humblebees." I can see this book inspiring children to explore nature. It is beautifully illustrated by Jen Corace which makes the story that much better!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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