Hour of the Bees

Hour of the Bees
Written by Lindsay Eagar

Publisher’s Summary:
While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.

Primary Source Pairing:
“Stories never end, they just turn into new beginnings, forever and ever.” pg 359

In this beautiful tale about a family and the passage of time, magical elements whisp in and out of the story. The stories Grandpa Serge tells Carol speak to the history of the Ranch and the power of a tree over many hundreds of years. The New Mexico terrain is not kind to trees, but this tree had strong roots. Furthermore, the Ranch, its sparse, brown, drought-stricken landscape, almost becomes a character itself in the stories Grandpa Serge tells Carol.  For this primary source pairing, invite students to connect the image of the New Mexico mesas to Grandpa Serge’s Ranch and Carol and her family’s experiences while living there. Also included, a US map with New Mexico highlighted.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What do you notice first?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • How does the landscape connect to what you read in Hour of the Bees?
  • How does this landscape compare to where you live now?
  • Could the tree in Grandpa Serge’s stories survive in this terrain? Why or why not?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
New Mexico mesas: ContinentalDivideTrail.org
New Mexico map: Wikimedia Commons