Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun19
Title: How to Bee
Author: Bren MacDibble
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Peony wants to be a Bee more than anything in the world. She and her sister Mags are very good Pests. It takes a lot to make it through the test to become a Bee and if she did, they would have more food. Peony tries even though she’s too young. Her friend Applejoy has an excellent smile and he does make it through the test the Boz or Forman sets. This time she is tripped up by a mean girl Pomz, so she fails the test. Pomz and AJ are the new Bees.
Gramps makes them good food and gives good hugs. When Ma comes home from the city, all worn out and crying, Gramps feeds her and gets her to sleep. His love rejuvenates his daughter Rosie enough for her to go back to the city. Peony and Mags want Ma to stay. They don’t need the money she brings home with her. They live in a shed on the farm. AJ and his mum and MJ live in a shed nearby. What could be better than the learning over the radio and working on the farm?
Peony is dragged away to the city and her world is turned upside down. She sees her Ma being bossed around and she doesn’t like the Ape Man who pulls her into the car. She must work and be polite, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She meets Esmeralda and finds out that people can be frightened of going outside. Peony makes a promise, and so does her new friend Ez.
The book is wonderfully written and a world without bees becomes a possible near future reality. It’s no wonder this book won and was shortlisted in so many awards.
I’m sure to re-read it many times.
Winner of the NZ Book Prize for Junior Fiction 2018
Winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2018
Winner of the Patricia Wrightson Prize in the NSW Premiers Awards.
Shortlisted: Queensland Literary Prize
Shortlisted: South Australian Festival Literary Prize
Shortlisted: Aurealis Award
Shortlisted: Ditmar Award