How to Bee, by 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.”

With real bees extinct, Peony wants nothing more than to be one of the human bees – children who climb the trees in the orchard and pollinate the flowers by hand, so that the rich people in the city can eat fruit. It’s not an easy life, scratching out a living on the farm, with her sister and grandfather, but at least the foreman makes sure they have food, and Gramps makes sure they have love.  But Peony’s ma wants her to come and live in the city, and won’t take no for an answer.

How to Bee is a moving novel set in a dystopian near-future of haves and have-nots impacted by the extinction of bees and other changes. Peony is feisty, an intriguing blend of innocence and worldliness. Good-hearted, she is torn by loyalty to her mother and the new friend she makes in the city, and her love of the rest of her family and of life in the country.

The premise is both intriguing and important – with the world’s bees declining in numbers – and readers will cheer for Peony as she makes her way through some really difficult times, helping others along the way.

How to Bee, by Bren MacDibble
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760294335

Become a Children's Writer, by Bren MacDibble

Do you care about what children read?
Do you like reading to children and seeing how involved they become in the world the author’s created?
Do you like the thought of working on your own creating something unique?
Do you like the idea of helping children to learn?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then children’s writing may well be for you. And a good starting point to investigate the hows and whys of writing for children is in this useful guide, Become a Children’s Writer. Part of the Top Job series, the guide provides loads of practical information about the children’s publishing industry, and about how to get started as a children’s writer.

MacDibble begins with a discussion of the skills necessary to become a children’s writer, followed by an introduction to the different kinds of publishers (trade versus educational) and the different types of children’s books, including picture books, chapter books, graded readers and young adult novels. She then moves onto some sound advice about writing craft, and finally practical information about submitting manuscripts and self-promotion. There is also a useful listing of contacts (including Australian publishers) and websites.

This 82 page guide is a wonderful starting point for anyone who is interested in writing for children. It also has lots of reminders for those who are already working in the industry. The information is well categorised, the writing style accessible, and the sturdy A4 format makes it easy to read and to locate relevant information. Whilst the earliest edition of the book was spiral bound, the guide is now book bound with an attractive cover.

The guide is available direct from the publisher online at www.topjobguide.com.au. An excellent resource.

Become a Children’s Writer, by Bren MacDibble
Australian Associated Publishing House, 2006