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The Bee-Man of Orn
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The Bee-Man of Orn

by Frank R. Stockton, P.J. Lynch (Illustrator), P. J. Lynch (Illustrator)

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A poor old Bee-man must leave his beloved hives to search for his true identity in this wry, classic tale, transformed with splendid paintings by the incomparable P.J. Lynch

"But what have I been transformed from?"
"That is more than I know," said the Junior Sorcerer.
"But one thing is certain- you ought to be changed


A poor old Bee-man must leave his beloved hives to search for his true identity in this wry, classic tale, transformed with splendid paintings by the incomparable P.J. Lynch

"But what have I been transformed from?"
"That is more than I know," said the Junior Sorcerer.
"But one thing is certain- you ought to be changed back."

When a young sorcerer appears at the Bee-man’s hut and tells him he may have been magically transformed from some other creature, the old man packs up his honeycombs and sets off to find out just what his true nature might be. Maybe he once was the arrogant master of a fair domain? Or one of the dreadful monsters beneath the black mountain? On his journey, the simple but honest old man meets up with some memorable characters: a Languid Youth in search of invigoration; a lively, boot-colored Very Imp; and a fearsome dragon about to devour a baby, a baby toward whom the Bee-man feels strangely drawn.

Brought to new life with enchanting illustrations by award-winning artist P. J. Lynch, this comic American folktale concludes with a final, satisfying twist that says much about fate, identity, and the captivating power of bees.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lynch's (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey) sprawling watercolor paintings are as elegant and enticing as Stockton's (The Lady or the Tiger?) late-19th-century folktale. The Bee-man, a shriveled old gent, keeps to himself except for the countless bees who share his house. One day a Junior Sorcerer tells the Bee-man that he has been transformed-though the young man cannot tell him from what, exactly-and says that if the old fellow learns what he initially was, this student of magic will "see that you are made all right again." Strapping a bee-filled hive to his back, the Bee-man sets out on a journey to ascertain his original form, telling himself, "When I see it, I shall be drawn toward it." Rich in detail and period flair, Lynch's luminous art imaginatively conveys the disparate locations to which the man's quest takes him. He first visits a "fair domain" featuring topiary-filled gardens and elegantly dressed folk; and then ventures into dark, ominous caverns hidden in a towering mountain, home to "dragons, evil spirits, and horrid creatures of all kinds." Here his bees help him rescue a baby from the clutches of a monstrous dragon, an experience that leads the aged man to the discovery of exactly what he was transformed from-and desires to become again. Thematically and visually, this is an enchanting work, one that will have the audience clamoring for a repeat reading almost immediately. Ages 6-10. (Feb.) FYI: Included with each book is a DVD, Making Fairy Tales, featuring Lynch in a step-by-step demonstration of how he creates a painting. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
If you are not familiar with the artwork by P. J. Lynch, then this book is a good place to start. He has illustrated a story that is not new and was actually once illustrated by Maurice Sendak. But Lynch's painterly style brings a whole new look to this tale of a man searching for his origins. The story is long and tells of a very happy man, old and content with his simple life shared with the bees. One day a sorcerer makes an appearance and tells him that he really is not in his original form and that he should be searching for it. Off he goes into the world trying to find who he is supposed to be. The story comes full circle and without giving way any of the details, suffice it to say that the Bee-Man does find who he was meant to be. P. J. Lynch is known for his wonderful scenes and the meticulous research that he undertakes to get the setting and clothing of the period correct. But more than that, he is a master at playing with light. Like Jonathan Toomey's The Christmas Miracle, light shines down on the Bee-Man in the beginning and the end of the story. In between there are many beautiful spreads of the village and countryside and a fabulous one of the Bee-Man as he saves a baby from being devoured by a ferocious dragon. Once you have enjoyed this book, you will find the CD packaged with it most illuminating. It shows Lynch at work. Then I suggest that you go back and read several of his other award winning picture books such as When Jessie Came Across the Sea and Grandad's Prayers of the Earth. 2003, Candlewick, Ages 7 up.
—Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-An aged Bee-man lives contentedly among his insect friends, surviving on honey and the occasional piece of meat, until the day an itinerant Junior Sorcerer informs him he's been transformed and encourages him to discover his "original form." On hearing this disturbing news, the Bee-man sets off. On his quest for his true nature, he rescues a baby from a dragon. His powerful attraction to the infant convinces him that this may be his original form and with the help of senior sorcerers he returns to his babyhood. The final scene describes a now-mature sorcerer, arriving at a small hut swarming with bees and finding, to his amazement, the once-again adult Bee-man. This delightful story about destiny, which first appeared in print in 1883, is illustrated primarily in earth tones. Sweeping vistas suffused with a long-ago-and-faraway atmosphere alternate with expressive spot art set against white backgrounds. Lynch has a talent for creating mysterious landscapes and capturing character: the befuddled, ragamuffin of a Bee-man and the "languid youth" he encounters in his travels, as well as the puerile sorcerer. The story has also been illustrated by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 2003). His art, done in pastel colors and featuring a portly, heavily jowled Bee-man, highlights the humor of the tale. While readers with a philosophical bent may prefer Lynch's version, there is room on library shelves for both.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Maurice Sendak's 1964 illustrations for this 19th-century tale capture its wit, but Lynch evokes its warmth, casting its eccentric protagonist as a wizened old gent with laugh wrinkles around his eyes and wildly flyaway gray hair. Happily ensconced amid swarms of bees, a hermit is driven to find out what he used to be by a passing student sorcerer's opinion that he's been transformed from-something. Was he an aristocrat? A monster? The Bee-man's quest for an answer takes him through vast, atmospheric painted landscapes and intricately detailed habitations; after rescuing a baby, he decides that that's what he once was, and now wants to be again. Local magicians oblige him-but years later the same sorcerer passes the Bee-man's tumbledown cottage, and finds him, grown again into an old man and happily surrounded by bees. There's a lesson here, probably, but young readers will respond more to Lynch's stunning art, and the Bee-man's simple courage. Packaged with a tour of the artist's studio on DVD (not seen). (Illustrated short story. 9+)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.68(w) x 11.68(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Frank R. Stockton (1834-1902), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of the best-known humorists in America during the nineteenth century. His gifts as an author of such imaginative children’s tales as THE FLOATING PRINCE AND OTHER FAIRY TALES (1881), THE LADY OR THE TIGER? (1884), and THE BEE-MAN OF ORN AND OTHER FANCIFUL TALES (1887), have gained renewed respect in recent years.

P.J. Lynch is the illustrator of numerous best-selling picture books, including THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF JONATHAN TOOMEY by Susan Wojciechowski. He has twice won the Kate Greenaway Medal for outstanding illustration in children’s books and is a three-time recipient of the Christopher Award. His other books include WHEN JESSIE CAME ACROSS THE SEA by Amy Hest, and GRANDAD'S PRAYERS OF THE EARTH by Douglas Wood. The artist lives in Dublin, Ireland, with his family.

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