Western Washington University’s Children’s Literature Conference | Bellingham, WA

SpacerNot long ago, I visited a 3rd grade classroom via Zoom to share Eric’s and my latest book, Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. The story follows the thirty-five day life of a single honeybee – Apis – from the moment she emerges into the hive to the morning she drops wearily to the ground. To move the narrative forward and give it tension, I used the refrain, “Will she fly?” The answer for most of the book is “no.” Apis is hive-bound. She cannot go outside. She must stay in the nest, cleaning and building without ever feeling the summer breeze on her face until…

Spacerone glorious day,
SpacerSpacerwhen we can no longer bear for her to remain inside,
SpacerSpacerSpacerSpacernot one moment longer,
SpacerSpacershe creeps to the opening,
SpacerSpacerlooks out and…
SpacerSpacerInto open space,
SpacerSpacerSpacerSpacerand sunshine,
SpacerSpacerSpacerSpacerSpacerand blossom-sweet breeze.
Spacer“Just like us,” piped up a third grade boy. “One day we’ll all come out of our hives, too. And we’ll fly.”
SpacerThe rest of the class cheered.
SpacerFor Apis?
SpacerFor their classmate?
SpacerFor a future out of their grasps for now?

SpacerLocked in at home, away from his classmates, remote and struggling to make sense of the new normal, this eight-year old had found something surprising in Honeybee. He found hope. Art and words had reconnected him with a world where the next good thing is possible.

SpacerEric and I set out to tell the story of a single bee. We hoped readers would fall in love with Apis and by extension all honeybees. But kids are magical creatures. Through some kind of alchemy, they turn our stories into their own. They intertwine their experiences. They discover the personally meaningful, relevant and useful. In the vast inner space of their thoughts and imaginations, our work is remade into something new, something more, and something unexpected.

SpacerWill we fly?

SpacerI have that third grader’s word on it: We will.

© 2020 Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
Neal Porter Books /Holiday House
Neal Porter Books /Holiday House

5 thoughts on “Fleming and Rohmann”

  1. Reassuring words for us all. We will fly. I know we’re all beyond ready. Good to know that the natural world, in all of its beauty and creativity, has inspiration.

    • I have been thinking so much about the relationship between the pandemic and nature, too. How lucky we are to have such rich books to pin in those intersections!


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