Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reading Journal Entry: The Secret Life of Bees

Some of my favorite books are ones written in a child's voice; not books for children, but lives seen from their perspectives. This is such a book. Lily is 14, and for ten years she has lived with the knowledge that she accidentally killed her own mother. She longs for any sign of love from her embittered father. The only affection she has in the whole world comes from Rosaleen, their housekeeper.

When these two find themselves in more trouble than they can handle due to racial bigotry, they run away to Tiburon, S.C.--a place that apparently had special significance for Lily's mother. They are taken in by three black women--sisters named May, June and August--who are beekeepers. Through calm wisdom and deep spirituality, August empowers Lily to come to terms with the hard truths of her past.

Short passages at the beginning of each chapter are quotes from books on beekeeping. These always relate in some way to what is going on with the human characters, although I often found it necessary to go back and reread the quote after finishing the chapter in order to see it.

Most of the book is written as an adolescent would talk, but there are lyrical moments such as this:
"I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it."

I had a picture of some bees on a honeycomb that I wanted to use. I planned to partially cut around the bees' bodies, so I painted my pages with FolkArt "Vintage White" to match the wax color. I wrote my review with a Pitt F pen. The title was written with black gouache, using a Tape 1 1/2 mm nib, while the author was written with a Nikko nib. I then sprayed with Krylon Workable Fixatif. I've found that on slick surfaces, it helps to hold the gouache in place. To tie the two pages together, I cut a stencil of honeycomb, and made a border with sponge daubers and Fresco "Golden Parchment" and "Tuscan Earth" inks.

I'm sorry my scanner made a checkerboard pattern on the picture. I've noticed that it tends to do that on browns, especially.


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Dawn said...

Nice spread. I enjoyed the book too. I listened to it on tape.