How to Bee Bren MacDib­ble, Allen & Un­win, $16.99

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER -

The main trope of this en­gag­ing novel is an old one: the im­pov­er­ished but re­silient child who teaches courage to a rich ner­vous one. But the story in which it is set is scar­ily mod­ern, in­spired by the news that some Chi­nese fruit grow­ers are pol­li­nat­ing their trees by hand be­cause of a scarcity of bees. Peony lives in cheer­ful, lov­ing poverty in her grand­fa­ther’s shack on a ru­ral fruit farm. All she wants is to be a bee — one of the fear­less chil­dren who climb up and brush the flow­ers with pollen. But just as she is about to make the grade her mother whisks her off to town. Here Peony meets Es­mer­alda, who is ter­ri­fied by the dan­gers of the city, and has time to in­spire her with a bit of her own back­bone be­fore she runs away, seek­ing her beloved or­chard. Verdict: de­light­ful

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