The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale from Africa

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9780823418589: The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale from Africa

Long ago in the mountains of Ethiopia, the bees arrived in Lalibela, and people poured in from all around to procure their sweet honey. A young girl named Almaz vows one day her honey will be the best of all. When she shares her dream with the current beekeepers, they laugh her away and tell her it's men's work. Almaz is determined to prove them all wrong, but she can barely climb the trees to reach the hives. The men think she's learned her lesson, but they don't know Almaz. She's steadfast in her pursuit of the honey. In this spirited text by Cristina Kessler, with stunning illustrations from Leonard Jenkisn, perseverance is the key to achieving one's dreams.

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About the Author:

Leonard Jenkins received his B.F.A and M.F.A. from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He has illustrated a number of popular children's books, including A Kenya Christmas by Tony Johnston and A Good Night for Freedom by Barbara Olenyik Morrow. School Library Journal raved the Jenkins's illustrations "will dazzle viewers. Even the shadows pulse with colour and pattern. Jenkins has a gift for figural painting and an exciting sense of composition." 
Cristina Kessler, an author, photographer, and world traveler, has written both fiction and nonfiction books for children, all set in Africa, where she lived for many years. Her books have earned spots on a handful of prestigious lists, such as Book Links"AFew Good Books of the Year,"Bank Street Best Books of the Year, and American Booksellers Pick of the Lists. Booklist has praised her stories as "lyrically told...with cultural particulars woven gracefully into the text."

From School Library Journal:

Grade 1-3–Lalibela is a mountain town in Ethiopia, known for its production of fine honey. Kessler's story features Almaz, a plucky girl who wishes to take on the traditionally male work of beekeeping. The men laugh when she can't climb a tall tree to fetch down a woven hive, except for Father Haile Kirros, who encourages her. In a few months, she returns to the marketplace, just as she had sworn to do, with very fine honey. Jenkins follows the ups and downs of Almaz's labor in deep-hued, mixed-media scenes spread richly across double pages. Focusing on the characters and their activities, the artist washes colors in broad layers for his background, sometimes adding chalky swirls resembling children's sidewalk drawings. Text blocks on some pages are simply set against the scene in white or black print, but other times they're set on irregular cream-colored shapes that almost appear to be speech balloons. Though the added elements are a bit cluttered, the art handsomely conveys the African setting. Kessler includes well-chosen details about the beekeeping project and a few words from the local Amharic and Tigringna languages. Easily understood in the text, they appear in a concluding glossary with an author's note on the village and its legendary name. Almaz's conclusion that Life is sweet is well earned, and readers will cheer her determination and good sense in realizing her dream.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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