A noble bee earns its wingsFeb 27, 2023 02:49PM ● By Jan Weeks
David Pietrack has always been an inspiration to his four sons. When they were children, bedtime stories were expected. So he made some up that focused on heroes.
“I grew up with Mighty Mouse cartoons, where he was brave and everything turned out well,” said David, 71, of Grand Junction.
One story he made up was about Buzzy the Bee, who faced his fears and did the noble thing. The bee was afraid to enter a race because he was afraid of losing. After some persuasion, Buzzy entered the race and won. The lesson David wanted his children to take away from the story is that one can’t win if one doesn’t try.
That story inspired his son Michael to pen his first book, “Legacy: The Saga Begins,” which has just come out in paperback.
“I wanted to teach them how to face their fears and keep going,” said David. “You have to know the difference between fear and danger, and that’s what the hero, Abelbee, learns in ‘Legacy.’”
David wanted his sons to exemplify the qualities of civility, selflessness, bravery, honesty, virtue, decency, generosity and ethics. He sent the boys to school each morning with the words, “Be noble.”
David also explained the difference between rules and principles.
“Rules come usually from parents, teachers and society. ‘Do this to get along.’ Principles, on the other hand, teach children to walk in another’s shoes and empathize.”
The boys strived to incorporate their father’s words into their everyday behavior. The phrase, “Be noble,” has inspired their actions ever since.
Michael Pietrack and his father David.
Michael, 44, took those lessons to heart and created a book in which the hero is a bee. The tale is told in poetry, specifically iambic pentameter with rhyming couplets.
He began work on the first book in the “Legacy” series in 2010, in his spare time away from his job as a recruiter in the pharmaceutical industry.
“I wrote the first chunk in three years and thought it was done,” he said.
As every writer knows, the first draft is never the final draft. So he soldiered on, sharing each section with David for comments and criticism.
When COVID struck and going to an office was out of the question, he wrote prolifically, ending up with 31,000 words. Besides sharing with his father, he began sending it to friends. A poet friend told him it had no meter. “Writing in iambic pentameter with rhyming couplets was very difficult and I was tempted to abandon that form. But rhyme is easy to remember,” said Michael.
Michael’s reason for writing the book in the first place was to honor his father for imparting his wisdom. It was also a legacy for his three daughters: Maddilyn, 11; Olivia, 8; and Gwen, 5, whom he wrote as characters in the book. He wanted them to have something to read when they’re older.
“The book is a coming-of-age story,” David remarked. “It’s not really a kids’ book, but a story that’s meant to be shared. Older readers will love it and read it with nostalgia.”
Michael credits his wife, Jamie, with being able to write to the finish, admitting he couldn’t have written such an epic without her support. Jamie’s patience with Michael’s writing schedule allowed him to work in every spare moment.
“Legacy” follows Abelbee, a four-winged bee who has been teased for his differentness, as he faces many dangers on a flight from Primdale Hive to save Cimberlee, the queen bee, who has fallen ill. On his journey to find Vallenbee, the only bee who can cure the queen, he travels through all the places bees normally avoid because of the dangers from bellbirds, wasps, frogs and vicious beewolves.
Abel relies on his wits and the kindness of strangers to complete his task while personifying the principles of nobility, as do some other characters, as he makes the long and dangerous journey. Though he’s afraid, he carries on because he knows the hive is depending on him, not letting the possibility of confronting enemies deter him.
The book is considered fantasy, yet none of the characters in the book have superpowers or magic.
Though Abel receives advice from many, including his father, he knows that a determined heart will learn its own lessons. Someday other bees will see him as a hero, and his name will be legend. He also learns that courage is being afraid and doing the right thing anyway.
Michael graduated from Colorado Mesa University in 2001 with a degree in English Literature. Charming illustrations were created by Katrina Odom, a current CMU student. Odom and Michael worked together to get the pictures just right, and that attention to detail shows.
Each chapter illustrates a different characteristic of nobility—or its opposite—and each chapter begins and ends with a narrator, who is revealed at the end of the book.
At the end of each chapter, there’s a QR code that, when scanned, takes the reader to a YouTube video about that segment.
Both Pietracks hope to inspire a “Be Noble” movement, similar to the “Be Kind” movement that started with high school students. The book has also inspired a song, co-written by Michael and Brooke Hatala, a rising country star from Nashville. Hatala recorded it and has put in on her album. Listen to “Abel’s Anthem,” here.
David wants his grandchildren to know that we all have choices. People’s values are the rudders that will guide them through their lives.
“What if every decision was a noble decision? Each choice is an opportunity to lift oneself and others up, or to take the less noble path,” he said.
So, dear readers: Choose to be noble.
“Legacy” is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback, Kindle and audiobook.
Listen to Michael read aloud from “Legacy: The Saga Begins”