Published by HarperAlley
Summary: The life cycle of the honey bee is given a whole new twist in this graphic novel that follows the life of a Nyuki (Swahili for bee) from her early days as a pupa until her death at the base of a flower. She is mentored by her older sister Dvorah, who tries to hold back Nyuki’s early urges to explore. A premature sojourn from the hive results in some close calls with a praying mantis and a spider, and Nyuki returns home vowing to never leave again. Now Dvorah has to find a way to lure her out, and her success is bittersweet. As Nyuki grows older, she becomes a beloved member of the hive and ends up in the role of mentor herself, helping out a younger bee named Melissa. Nearing the end of her life, Nyuki goes for one last flight and finds an unusual way to ensure that she will return to the hive after her death. Includes labeled diagrams of the honeybee; ten pages of chapter-by-chapter annotations; and a list of references. 160 pages; grades 4-8.
Pros: The graphic nonfiction just keeps on getting better and better. Written and illustrated by a biology professor, this one manages to tell a fascinating story, creating interesting insect and flower characters, and also to impart a wealth of information. With the extensive back matter, this could easily be used as a high school or even a college text, yet is engaging and understandable enough for older elementary kids.
Cons: This is actually a revised edition of the author’s earlier book Clan Apis, so it feels like a little bit of a stretch to call it a new book in 2021.