King Solomon and the Bee

Dalia Hard­of Ren­berg; Ruth Heller, illus.
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
This Tal­mu­dic tale is adapt­ed from the writ­ings of the Jew­ish poet, Hayy­im Nah­man Bia­lik, who wrote And It Came to Pass, a col­lec­tion of folk­loric or invent­ed leg­ends involv­ing King David and King Solomon. No mat­ter what the offi­cial ori­gins, this tale quick­ly reveals King Solomon in all his wis­dom with a lit­tle bit of help from a small friend, of course. A young bee has had the great mis­for­tune of sting­ing the nose of King Solomon by acci­dent. The bee acknowl­edges his error, apol­o­gizes and then argues that instead of pun­ish­ment, the bee will one day repay the favor of the king’s benev­o­lence. King Solomon is so amazed at the lit­tle creature’s con­fi­dence and courage that he for­gives him. Soon the Queen of She­ba arrives at Solomon’s court intent on test­ing the famous king’s wis­dom. After the King has answered numer­ous ques­tions, She­ba per­plex­es him with stun­ning flower bou­quets, only one of which is real. Solomon is baf­fled until he hears a slight buzz and the lit­tle bee flies in the win­dow and lands incon­spic­u­ous­ly on the real bou­quet. King Solomon’s fame as the wis­est is intact and the King’s benev­o­lence is repaid. This sim­ple sto­ry guides young chil­dren to real­ize that size and sta­tus are not as impor­tant as one’s courage and sense of hon­or. The book can be eas­i­ly incor­po­rat­ed into numer­ous lessons plans fea­tur­ing the val­ues of fair­ness and jus­tice across mul­ti­ple age lev­els. Heller’s illus­tra­tions are vibrant and exact­ing: enhanc­ing the visu­al tex­ture of the sto­ry. The deci­sion by Croc­o­dile Books to re-issue King Solomon and the Bee in a paper­back edi­tion is great­ly wel­comed. Edu­ca­tors and par­ents will be grate­ful for its return to the library shelves, allow­ing this trea­sure to be more wide­ly shared with young read­ers. For ages 5 – 8.
Chris­tine Maas­dam holds a Mas­ters in Human­i­ties, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in Muse­um Stud­ies and Cul­tur­al Prop­er­ty Pro­tec­tion. She is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing her M.L.I.S. Her inter­ests are phi­los­o­phy and the impact of art and tech­nol­o­gy on culture.

Discussion Questions