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Children's LiteratureThe sweet, rich honey of Lalibela, in the Ethiopian mountains, is part of a local legend. Kessler makes a young girl the heroine of this tale of beekeeping. Almaz wants to keep bees to make "the best honey in all of Lalibela." The men who traditionally keep bees tell her it is men's work. When they challenge her to bring down a hive, she cannot. They laugh, but after three months they are surprised when she appears at the Saturday market with a comb filled with rich honey. When after eight Saturdays she does not arrive at the market, worried Father Haile Kirros goes to find her. Unfortunately, ants have ruined her hive. After much trial and error, Almaz figures out how to thwart the ants. "Life is sweet," she notes, as she is welcomed back to the market as "the best beekeeper of Lalibela." Jenkins uses acrylic, pastel, and spray paint to create double-page illustrations with shapes that suggest rather than stipulate Almaz's almost exotic world. She and the villagers are recognizable but the scenes are dominated by areas of color that sweep across the pages, sometimes clearly, other times with scumbled textures, and still others with linear arabesques turning their passivity into mysterious action. The "Author's Note" fills in the background of the legend and the story; a glossary includes Tigringna and Amharic words. 2006, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz