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Clan Apis    by Jay Hosler order for
Clan Apis
by Jay Hosler
Order:  USA  Can
Active Synapse, 2000 (2000)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

The cute bug thing's been done, right? We all laughed and enjoyed Antz and its more successful rival, A Bug's Life on the big screen in the newly emerging CGI animation films. Well, maybe it has been done, but Clan Apis does it much better than either of those films could, in acquainting us with insects who represent eighty percent of the world's living organisms.

Jay Hosler takes on the honey bee in this educating and entertaining graphic novel, that was also the winner of the Xeric Award. From larva to honey bee to dirt, Hosler presents to us the full life of Nyuki, a bee in Clan Apis (literal translation from latin, Clan Bee). This boisterous and sometimes rebellious bee lives her life serving the hive and making friends like Dvorah, her older sibling who teaches her the ins and outs of the honey bee world. Nyuki also meets Sisyphus, the dung beetle and Bloomington, the flower. As she matures and takes on new responsibilities throughout the nest, she learns some of the harder truths of life, ultimately finds her niche among the clan, and even becomes the mature educator that she saw in Dvorah.

Clan Apis proves just how valuable and useful comic books and graphic novels can be. Written by Jay Hosler, who has a PhD in biology, this graphic novel is filled with facts and information that readers can't help but retain. Because Hosler presents his material in a conversational manner, it proves very useful as an educational tool. Its easy manner guarantees a decent level of retention for its content. From Dvorah's 'Big Bloom' theory of the universe to Nyuki's playing Cupid in a game of cross-pollination, almost all arcs within the story have educational value. Also, the graphic novel includes two end pieces - 'Bee Lines,' six pages of facts and trivia on bees, and 'Killer Bees,' a short six page comic strip about Hossler's experience with an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

All that this graphic novel lacks is a good introduction to help prime readers for the exciting journey they're about to embark upon, but then again, part of Clan Apis's charm is that it is very unassuming. Drawn in simple black and white, the panels do not feel overcrowded, nor overloaded with pictures that might inhibit understanding. Hosley isn't afraid to leave open spaces of black and white. This graphic novel's versatility cannot be overstated. Whether as an aid to a science or reading class, or for the recreational reader, Clan Apis will meet the expectations of many audiences.

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