Cover image for The bee-man of Orn
The bee-man of Orn
Stockton, Frank Richard, 1834-1902.
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
When a Sorcerer tells him that he has been transformed from another sort of being, the Bee-man sets out to discover what he was in his earlier incarnation.
General Note:
The Bee-Man of Orn first appeared as "The Bee-man and his original form" in St. Nicholas magazine in November 1883. Text here is the slightly revised version from "The Bee-man of Orn and other fanciful tales, " published in 1887 by Scribner's Sons in New York.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.7 1.0 77207.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.S714 BE 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Media Kits

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A poor old Bee-man must leave his beloved hives to search for his true identity in this wry, classic tale, transformed with splendid paintings by the incomparable P.J. Lynch

"But what have I been transformed from?"
"That is more than I know," said the Junior Sorcerer.
"But one thing is certain- you ought to be changed back."

When a young sorcerer appears at the Bee-man's hut and tells him he may have been magically transformed from some other creature, the old man packs up his honeycombs and sets off to find out just what his true nature might be. Maybe he once was the arrogant master of a fair domain? Or one of the dreadful monsters beneath the black mountain? On his journey, the simple but honest old man meets up with some memorable characters: a Languid Youth in search of invigoration; a lively, boot-colored Very Imp; and a fearsome dragon about to devour a baby, a baby toward whom the Bee-man feels strangely drawn.

Brought to new life with enchanting illustrations by award-winning artist P. J. Lynch, this comic American folktale concludes with a final, satisfying twist that says much about fate, identity, and the captivating power of bees.

Author Notes

Frank Richard Stockton was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 5, 1834. In 1868, he started working for the magazine Hearth and Home, where he wrote fairy tales as well as stories and articles on a variety of subjects for adults. In 1874, he became the assistant editor of Saint Nicholas Magazine and worked there until 1878 when he was forced to resign due to failing eyesight. He continued to write by dictating to his wife or a professional secretary. His first fairy tale, Ting-a-Ling, was published in The Riverside Magazine in 1867 and his first book collection was published in 1870. His works include The Lady or the Tiger, The Griffin and the Minor Canon, The Bee-Man of Orn, The House of Martha, and The Lost Dryad. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 20, 1902 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-3. Stockton's classic story, memorably and rather comically illustrated by Maurice Sendak in 1964, now appears in a large-format picture book with Lynch's dramatic illustrations. The unlikely hero is Bee-man, an old, ugly, untidy, shriveled, and sun-burnt figure who is contented with his life as a beekeeper until a young sorcerer informs him that he has been transformed from something else. Seized with a determination to discover and recover his previous form, the Bee-man goes on a quest that takes him to a stately palace where he learns that noblemen sometimes act ignobly, into a cavern where he rescues a baby from a monstrous dragon, and to a village where he restores the infant to its mother and decides upon his own future. Lynch's spirited artwork, richly detailed and darkly atmospheric, provides a series of imaginative settings and creates a romantic and broadly appealing vision of this original fairy tale. Large in scale and epically cinematic in effect, the beautiful watercolor-and-gouache paintings create a mysterious otherworld that will remain part of children's imaginations long after they have graduated to novel-length fantasies. With pictures large enough for sharing with groups, this edition is a read-aloud treasure for good listeners. A DVD giving a behind-the-scenes look at the artist at work is included in the book. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lynch's (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey) sprawling watercolor paintings are as elegant and enticing as Stockton's (The Lady or the Tiger?) late-19th-century folktale. The Bee-man, a shriveled old gent, keeps to himself except for the countless bees who share his house. One day a Junior Sorcerer tells the Bee-man that he has been transformed-though the young man cannot tell him from what, exactly-and says that if the old fellow learns what he initially was, this student of magic will "see that you are made all right again." Strapping a bee-filled hive to his back, the Bee-man sets out on a journey to ascertain his original form, telling himself, "When I see it, I shall be drawn toward it." Rich in detail and period flair, Lynch's luminous art imaginatively conveys the disparate locations to which the man's quest takes him. He first visits a "fair domain" featuring topiary-filled gardens and elegantly dressed folk; and then ventures into dark, ominous caverns hidden in a towering mountain, home to "dragons, evil spirits, and horrid creatures of all kinds." Here his bees help him rescue a baby from the clutches of a monstrous dragon, an experience that leads the aged man to the discovery of exactly what he was transformed from-and desires to become again. Thematically and visually, this is an enchanting work, one that will have the audience clamoring for a repeat reading almost immediately. Ages 6-10. (Feb.) FYI: Included with each book is a DVD, Making Fairy Tales, featuring Lynch in a step-by-step demonstration of how he creates a painting. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-5-An aged Bee-man lives contentedly among his insect friends, surviving on honey and the occasional piece of meat, until the day an itinerant Junior Sorcerer informs him he's been transformed and encourages him to discover his "original form." On hearing this disturbing news, the Bee-man sets off. On his quest for his true nature, he rescues a baby from a dragon. His powerful attraction to the infant convinces him that this may be his original form and with the help of senior sorcerers he returns to his babyhood. The final scene describes a now-mature sorcerer, arriving at a small hut swarming with bees and finding, to his amazement, the once-again adult Bee-man. This delightful story about destiny, which first appeared in print in 1883, is illustrated primarily in earth tones. Sweeping vistas suffused with a long-ago-and-faraway atmosphere alternate with expressive spot art set against white backgrounds. Lynch has a talent for creating mysterious landscapes and capturing character: the befuddled, ragamuffin of a Bee-man and the "languid youth" he encounters in his travels, as well as the puerile sorcerer. The story has also been illustrated by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 2003). His art, done in pastel colors and featuring a portly, heavily jowled Bee-man, highlights the humor of the tale. While readers with a philosophical bent may prefer Lynch's version, there is room on library shelves for both.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.