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King Solomon and the Bee

King Solomon and the Bee
Ruth Heller Illustrated by
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Interlink Books

Limited ***

9.3 X 9.0 in
32 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Jewish


One day, when King Solomon was resting in his garden, a small bee accidentally stung the great king on his nose. Furious, the king summoned all possible offenders and demanded to know who had dared to sting him. A small bee came forward and, as it pleaded for the king’s forgiveness, offered to repay him. King Solomon was amused by the bee’s earnest proposal, for how could such a little bee repay such a powerful king? Dalia Hardof Renberg’s simple adaptation of this traditional story, pared with Ruth Heller’s glorious illustrations, is a surprising and charming tale of how one small bee keeps its mighty promise.


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.Jewish Book World

In Renberg's adaptation of a tale recorded by folklorist and storyteller Hayyam Nahman Bialik (1873-1934), a bee mistakes King Solomon's nose, with its 'roselike fragrance and bananalike grace, ' for a flower and accidentally stings the royal schnoz. Solomon flies into a rage, but eventually pardons the abashed bee. Humming with gratitude, the bee eventually repays the king's mercy by helping him answer the Queen of Sheba's greatest riddle; unfortunately, while Renberg makes much of the queen's conundrums, she never explains just why it is so important for Solomon to solve them.... Heller (The Korean Cinderella; Chickens Aren't the Only Ones) populates her illustrations with beautifully delineated, jewel-toned flora and fauna as well as an assortment of bijoux bugs. Period costumes supply atmosphere, and the overall ambiance is indeed of a land of milk and honey.Publishers Weekly

Ages 5-8. Renberg retells a traditional tale with roots in the Bible. King Solomon is visiting his garden when a small bee accidently stings his nose. Solomon is angry at first and then laughs when the bee says that someday he may be able to do him a favor. That day comes when the queen of Sheba arrives to test Solomon's vaunted wisdom with puzzles and riddles. The last test involves bouquets of artificial flowers-and one bunch that is real. Solomon is having trouble picking out the real flowers as the queen requests, until the bee flies directly to them. This simple story is fresh and appealing. The brightly colored pictures, accented with masses of flowers on every page, are occasionally stiff, but they do have child appeal. Kids will especially like the two-page spread that is crowded with insects flying around the pages. An author's note chronicles the interesting derivation of this story.Booklist

PreSchool-Grade 3-In this adaptation of the traditional legend, King Solomon is not only wise, but also able to talk to animals. After being stung on the nose, he summons all manner of insects to appear before him and demands to know who dared to attack him. A small bee confesses and begs forgiveness, promising to do the king a favor later. Solomon laughs, but the bee later helps him pass a test put to him by the Queen of Sheba. Renberg bases her version on a story in Hayyim Nahman Bialik's And It Came to Pass, but notes that its origins are unclear. The text is smoothly written in a direct style. Heller's realistic illustrations, full of decorative floral and architectural detail, invite browsing. Their lush colors and the interesting page composition attract and hold interest. The result is an appealing picture book. - School Library Journal

After King Solomon forgives a bee for stinging him, it returns the favor by identifying the one real flower among a roomful of artificial ones-one of the riddles set the great king by the queen of Sheba. As Renberg explains in an excellent note, this story has Talmudic roots but is based on 'The Bee' by Jewish poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik ('since this account doesn't appear in the Talmud, scholars are unclear whether Bialik based it on some other ancient folklore or whether he invented it'). Renberg's simplified retelling is straightforward and lively, a good match for Heller's almost raucously colorful illustrations: Her statuesque, classically draped figures, set amid a riot of blossoms in the opulently appointed palace, are the stuff of legend.Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio

Dalia Hardoff Renberg is the author of Hello, Clouds! and The Complete Family Guide to Jewish Holidays. Ruth Heller was the author and illustrator of many highly praised books for children, including Up, Up and Away. She was also the illustrator of Shirley Climo’s The Egyptian Cinderella.

Ruth Heller, called a &quot'superstar&quot' of children's literature by San Francisco Magazine, wrote and illustrated a total of 23 fiction and non-fiction children's books by her death in 2004. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a degree in fine arts, she lived in San Francisco and raised two sons before venturing into fields of freelance design and commercial art. After refining her skills at Yaddo, an artists' colony in upstate New York, her writing career was launched in 1981 with the publication of Chickens Aren't the Only Ones. Throughout her life, she was a frequent guest speaker at schools and libraries, where she loved teaching children about grammar and nature and entertaining them with her detailed, colorful drawings and delightful word play.