Reviewed by Azeb Tadesse
The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela, recommended for grades 1-3, is a timeless tale of young girl’s determination to follow her dream. The heroine, Almaz, is determined to be the best beekeeper in her village, even though she is told it’s “men’s work” and she should learn to do women’s work. Almaz is drawn to make honey after a trip to the market where she gets a taste from a honey seller and tells herself that “one day mine will be the best.”
Inspired she pays a visit to the honey makers who practice their trade at the edge of the forest and tells them “I want to make the best honey in all of Lalibela.” The men find her declaration laughable and are quick to be dismissive of her determined announcement. The eldest of the group condescendingly tells her that beekeeping is “men’s work” and to “go find your mother and learn to cook, clean and gather firewood.” This crushes the little girl’s spirit but she finds friendship and encouragement in the form of a gentle priest called Father Haile Kirros. With his encouragement she learns the art of beekeeping and in time she’s at the market outselling her male competitors. Continue reading.
The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela by Cristina Kessler
Illustrator: Leonard Jenkins
Published by Holiday House on 2006
Genres: Africa, Girls and Women
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2
Review Source: Africa Access
Buy at Powell's Books
Publisher's Synopsis: Long ago in the mountains of Ethiopia, the bees arrived in Lalibela, and people poured in from all around to procure their sweet honey. A young girl named Almaz vows one day her honey will be the best of all. When she shares her dream with the current beekeepers, they laugh her away and tell her it's men's work. Almaz is determined to prove them all wrong, but she can barely climb the trees to reach the hives. The men think she's learned her lesson, but they don't know Almaz. She's steadfast in her pursuit of the honey. In this spirited text by Cristina Kessler, with stunning illustrations from Leonard Jenkisn, perseverance is the key to achieving one's dreams.