Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Clan Apis

There are a number of insect-based cartoon movies, such as the Bee Movie or A Bug's Life, but none of them do as good a job of combining biological facts and a fun plot as much as Clan Apis. This book follows the life of Nyuki from a larva to an adult. She is an unconventional bee in that she questions much of regular hive life. Her older sister Dvorah provides counsel and rationales for a lot of the rules that Nyuki challenges. Nyuki's life gets complicated once she leaves the hive and meets some of the outside lifeforms.

Jay Hosler is an associate professor of biology at Juniata College. He received his doctorate degree studying bees, and he provides lots of great facts about them within the narrative. He also presents lots of information about dung beetles, praying mantises, and spiders as well. There are lots of neat tidbits in here, such as in the names (Nyuki is Swahili for bee; Dvorah is bee in Hebrew). A lot of these facts and information come across within the course of the story in such a fun, breezy manner. Hosler is a great storyteller, and his pictures tell an ultimately very affecting tale.

Clan Apis received multiple nominations for Ignatz and Eisner Awards. In addition to professional recognition, the reviews are very positive, even ones from "hard" science publications such as Discover Magazine. Here is a page where many reviews of the book can be found.

This book was funded by a Xeric Grant. It consists of five chapters, each originally published as separate comic books. This collected version is published by Active Synapse.

The book's official page has many resources available, including links to the science behind the story, and some funny Science Cartoons. There is another cartoon on the site that is also in the collection, titled Killer Bee, where we discover that Hosler is very allergic to bees. Ironic, eh?

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