How to Bee

Bren MacDibble

How to Bee
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How to Bee

Bren MacDibble

Sometimes bees get too big to be up in the branches, sometimes they fall and break their bones. This week both happened and Foreman said, ‘Tomorrow we’ll find two new bees.’

Peony lives with her sister and grandfather on a fruit farm outside the city. In a world where real bees are extinct, the quickest, bravest kids climb the fruit trees and pollinate the flowers by hand. All Peony really wants is to be a bee. 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, and all Peony’s grit and quick thinking might not 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.


Meet tough, sassy Peony, an almost-ten-year-old farm worker in the Goulburn Valley of the near future. Peony can’t wait to be promoted to the role of ‘bee’ – reserved for the quickest, nimblest kids who perform the crucial task of pollinating fruit trees by hand. A famine has wiped out bees, leaving Australia in a frighteningly unequal state.

Peony, her grandfather and her sister, Magnolia, work and live on the farm in exchange for a tin shed and a place in a community. This hard but happy life is threatened when Peony’s mum takes her to the city to work for ‘real money’ in a wealthy home. This novel, though it sometimes moves a little too quickly, sees Peony bravely take on big challenges to prove the importance of family, kindness and community in a world twisted by greed and consumption. Recommended for readers 8+.

Georgia Delaney works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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