The Bee Maker

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
198 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2019
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Author Biography

Mobi Warren is a poet, translator, and retired math educator from San Antonio, Texas. She studied Ancient Greek at the University of Texas at Austin and holds a Masters degree in Multidisciplinary Sciences from the University of the Incarnate Word. In 1977, she sailed the South China Sea with a project to rescue Vietnamese refugees, the "boat people," and she is the translator of the children's book The Dragon Prince: Stories and Legends from Vietnam by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as his biography of the Buddha, Old Path White Clouds. She has worked as a professional storyteller and as a puppeteer in an art museum and has taught mathematics to all grades from kindergarten to high school seniors. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. The Bee Maker is her first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Can you imagine a life without fresh strawberries? Or even a life without honey? I can’t. The mere thought is very disturbing. But, then again, so is the thought of life without honeybees. If we lose our pollinators, and honeybees are very significant pollinators, then we will also lose a lot of the foods we love and take for granted.

Melissa lives in 2036. Her parents are academics. Divorced, her mother is far away working on archaeological digs in ancient Crete. Her father is an entomologist who specializes in honeybees. He searches for the last remaining hives and tries to rescue them, to help the dying honeybee population to rejuvenate itself. Melissa helps her father on his last honeybee rescue; she also helps him by making tiny origami bees in the hopes that her creations will assist in the re-population of honeybees. An epileptic child, Melissa suddenly experiences jumps back in time to the very archaeological site where her mother is excavating. The origami bees follow her and the events that follow in both time frames are astounding.

Mobi Warren’s The Bee Maker is astoundingly brilliant. In an era where we continue to take our planet for granted and we choose to avoid the warning signs of over-pesticide use and its effects on our much-needed pollinators, it takes a story such as this to make us take notice and put plans into action before it really is too late. Melissa’s story is less than fifty years in the future. It could very well be our story as well. The plot is well developed, in both time frames, and the jump between times is cleverly articulated. The characters are realistic and well developed. This is a powerful story with a very profound message: save the honeybees!

Jack Magnus

The Bee Maker is a science fiction novel for children, preteens and young adults written by Mobi Warren. The honeybees were nearly all extinct by the year 2036. Melissa’s dad, Dr. Paul Bui, a honeybee communications specialist, had tracked down a hive still thriving in an almond orchard in Yolo County, California. He, Melissa and her small dog, Hermes, would be relocating to Benefit, Texas where he would be working with other scientists in Benefit College. Melissa hated the idea. She hadn’t been consulted as usual, and felt, not for the first time, that her dad was not terribly concerned about how she felt about things. Melissa’s hands found comfort in the folds and edges her practiced fingers created as she made an origami honeybee while her father boxed the hive. Then she heard the music, a flute, she thought, and she could sense the sadness emanating from the melody. Her dad’s face suddenly appeared in her vision, and she heard Hermes whining uneasily. She had blanked out again. She hated that. The kids and teachers in middle school treated her as if she were weird or different, calling her ‘statue girl.’ Epilepsy was not something she ever wanted to deal with again, and the medications she had finally stopped taking had made her feel so sluggish and out of it. Melissa was determined not to go on them ever again.

The Bee Maker takes the reader into the not-too-distant future where readers will reel in horror at the awful vision they are exposed to. Climate change and pesticides have nearly made the honeybee extinct and, with them, the vegetables and fruits we still take for granted are things of the past. I’m generally reluctant to read post-apocalyptic or near-future novels, but found this one to be different. The author grabbed my attention from the outset with the dramatic rescue of the Yolo bees and the intriguing narrative behind her main character, Melissa Bui. The Bee Maker is a powerful story that blends the coming of age, time travel and science fiction genres. I loved watching Melissa work at her running, and her growing friendship with Beau, the literal boy next door is a delight. Add in a marvelous parallel story from ancient Crete, and just a dash of mathematics, populate both times with credible and real characters, and you end up with a fast-paced and fascinating book that works on so many levels. The Bee Maker is most highly recommended.

Patricia Reding

The Bee Maker by Mobi Warren tells two stories that connect across time and space. First is the tale of Melissa and her father, who move from (a future) California to Texas, from whence Melissa’s father seeks to bring honeybees back from their near extinction, the result of climate change. Without the regular luxury of foods that depend on honeybees, Melissa hopes to help her father in his efforts and, in the process, to connect more closely with him. Eventually she, to her surprise, time travels, a phenomenon that results from the “blank out” periods she experiences as a result of her epilepsy. Although confused at the start, Melissa eventually realizes that her episodes connect her to Amethea who lives in ancient sixth century BCE Greece, a place her anthropologist mother studies. Both Melissa and Amethea are runners. The story culminates as they each run a race: Melissa to benefit the local bee sanctuary (and thereby her father’s work); and Amethea to save the life of her physically challenged brother, Hippasus, whose mother had refused to give him up at birth, notwithstanding the physical handicaps with which he had been born.

Mobi Warren weaves numerous ideas into The Bee Maker, as a consequence of which the tale does not fit into any pre-designed genre or category. It combines bits of ancient Greek mythology, futuristic dystopia concepts, and near magic fantasy elements—including time travel. It uses a wide range of characters, including Melissa and her parents and grandmother, her new-found friend, Beau, and his parents as well as his pets, and another entire cast located in ancient Greece with Amethea. I found one of the most interesting characters to be the real historical Pythagoras of ancient Greece whose studies included the study of numbers. Interestingly, he noted concepts that some people today believe may be relevant to real honeybees and how they communicate with one another. To the genre varieties and the full list of characters, add in some origami bees, a marathon or two, and some time traveling in mind and body, and there is something to be found in The Bee Maker for all readers.

Robin McDaniel

Mobi Warren has written a fantastic book of hope. In a not too distant world, man has ruined all the tasty pleasures of life and threatened the existence of the hard working honeybee. This is a story of two young girls full of hope, hardwork, and love for family. One works to save the bees and the other her family. Together they take you on a mystical journey. Long live strawberry jam. Thank you bees.