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How to Bee
Cover of How to Bee
How to Bee
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A story about family, loyalty, kindness and bravery, set against an all-too-possible future where climate change has forever changed the way we live. In a world where real bees are extinct, the...
A story about family, loyalty, kindness and bravery, set against an all-too-possible future where climate change has forever changed the way we live. In a world where real bees are extinct, the...
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Description-

  • A story about family, loyalty, kindness and bravery, set against an all-too-possible future where climate change has forever changed the way we live.

    In a world where real bees are extinct, the quickest, bravest kids climb the fruit trees and pollinate the flowers by hand. Peony lives with her sister, Magnolia, and her grandfather on a fruit farm outside the city. All Peony really wants is to be a bee. Even though she is only nine — and bees must be ten — Peony already knows all there is to know about being a bee and she is determined to achieve her dream.

    Life on the farm is a scrabble, but there is enough to eat and a place to sleep, and there is love. Then Peony's mother arrives to take her away from everything she has ever known. Peony is taken to the city to work for a wealthy family. Will Peony's grit and quick thinking be enough to keep her safe?

    How to Bee is a beautiful and fierce novel for younger readers, and the voice of Peony will stay with you long after you read the last page.

    Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.6
    Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.

About the Author-

  • BREN MACDIBBLE was raised on farms all over New Zealand, so is an expert about being a kid on the land. After 20 years in Melbourne, Bren recently sold everything, and now lives and works on a bus travelling around Australia. In 2018, How to Bee — her first novel for younger readers — won the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers, the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature, and the New Zealand Book Awards Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction. She recently published The Dog Runner. Bren also writes for young adults under the name Cally Black.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2020
    In near-future Australia, "bee" is both a noun and a verb. Before the famines that occurred 30 years ago, crops were pollinated by actual bees, but wanton pesticide use means that now the job must be done by children who are light and quick enough to hand-pollinate the orchards that produce the fruit that's taken to the city. Peony, the novel's charismatic 9-year-old narrator, wants nothing more than to bee, but Foreman doesn't pick her. That's bad enough, but even worse is when Ma comes from the city where she works and takes Peony away from Gramps and her beloved sister. In the city, Peony must wear shoes and wait on the Pasquales, a family of three that lives in comfort Peony can't fathom. MacDibble effectively creates a not-quite-post-apocalyptic world of tremendous class contrasts, with farmworkers who live in dire poverty and frightening, teeming crowds of "raggy people" in the city; the elites live in seeming oblivion. But once Peony gets to the city, the plot devolves into a Secret Garden-esque arc in which Peony combines Mary Lennox's abrasive impulsivity and Dickon's simple country wisdom as she befriends and nurtures the Pasquales' imperious daughter, who, Colin-like, is hostage to her own fears. Peony seeks not revolution but a return to the orchard, her enlightenment an entirely personal one. Racial distinctions are effectively invisible, implying a white default. A vivid futuristic setting enfolds a fundamentally nostalgic plot. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 9-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    February 14, 2020

    Gr 4-7-An Australian import of speculative fiction in which bees no longer exist, and therefore children are left to pollinate the trees and flowers for fruit. Peony is one such girl, living on the farm with her sister Magnolia and their grandfather while their mother lives in the city, known as the Urbs. Peony's goal is to become a full-fledged bee, and she works hard until her mother comes to take her away against her will. Not only is she separated from her beloved grandfather and sister, she's living in a new home and working for a family. Yet, Peony's upbeat attitude allows her to make the best of it until she can return to the farm. MacDibble uses imaginative language to describe a futuristic world that is only momentarily disorienting. Otherwise, the coming-of-age narrative tracking Peony's journey is deeply felt-especially when her mother puts her in dangerous situations where she must persevere. Eventually, the darker story ends on a hopeful note. Similar shifts in the setting from farm to city and back again move the narrative quickly toward a bittersweet resolution that fittingly ties up loose ends. VERDICT Take a chance on this middle grade tale of courage, with a unique storyline that magnifies a realistic threat to one of nature's most helpful insects.-Alicia Abdul, Albany High School, NY

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 1, 2020
    Grades 4-6 *Starred Review* In a world where bees are no more?readers won't know if this is the future, an alternate time line, or a parallel universe?there are the farm folk, Pests and Bees, and the wealthy city folk who live far off and lounge around in luxury, known as the Urbs. Peony wants more than anything to live on her grandfather's farm and be a Bee, a worker who manually pollinates flowers and fruits to keep society running, but when her volatile Ma shows up and moves her to the big city, she must decide where?and who?she wants her family to be. Imported from Australia, MacDibble's award-winning debut children's novel is a refreshing breath of organic, floral-scented air. She has created a recognizable, unforgettable voice in Peony, who is a vibrant personality, speaking like a child-friendly version of Anthony Burgess' Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Readers will root for her and her friends throughout their challenges and adventures, from surviving in the city to being promoted on the farm.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • School Library Journal [A] middle grade tale of courage, with a unique storyline that magnifies a realistic threat to one of nature's most helpful insects.

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    Groundwood Books Ltd
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