Review Blog

Nov 14 2011

Darius Bell and the Crystal Bees by Odo Hirsch

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Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN: 978 1 74237 683 7
When the bees on the Bell Estate appear to have swarmed, the bee keepers, the Deavers, are not especially concerned . . . at least, not until all of the bees seem to have disappeared. Meanwhile Mr. Beale, the science teacher, is enlisted to explain both 'swarming' and the importance of the bees in the process of pollination. When Darius realises the consequences of the bees' absence, he and his friends go into action to try and resolve the situation to ensure the workers on the Bell Estate will not suffer or be forced to leave. Whilst these issues are upmost in the boys' minds, Mrs. Lightman, the Principal of Viglen School is demanding Darius assist her in producing costumes from the Estate. She plans to use them in winning the Mayor's Prize at the annual event. Will Darius be able to sort things out for his friends and outsmart the Mayor in the process?
Despite not having previously been a major Odo Hirsch fan, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Darius Bell books. They are easy reads and would be useful as read-aloud titles for middle to upper primary classes or for use in literature circles. This could be used as an adjunct to a science unit because the whole of Darius's class becomes involved in various science-based activities around bees and pollination. Team work, friendship, loyalty and problem solving are themes which are central to this title, all of which could be teased out within the classroom. There is a certain amount of humour included, largely at the expense of the mayor and the principal as well as revolving around Paul and his inappropriate use of proverbs.
Allen & Unwin regularly include great teacher notes on their site, as well as teacher reviews. Comprehensive teacher notes for this title can be found here.
Jo Schenkel

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