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Saturday, August 1, 2020

#NetGalley Book Review: The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn

This is a good MG story that addresses peer pressure and bees!
The Queen Bee and Me
Gillian McDunn
File Size: 5935 KB
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books; 1 edition (March 3, 2020)
Language: English
Genre: Bees, Children, Peer Pressure
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0.

From the highly acclaimed author of Caterpillar Summer comes a heartfelt story about the sweetness and stings of middle-school friendship.
Meg has always found comfort in her best friend Beatrix's shadow. Self-assured Beatrix is the one who makes decisions, and the girls have been a pair since kindergarten. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick.
A special science elective is Meg's first step away, but when she's paired with quirky new girl Hazel, Beatrix steps in to stake her claim on Meg. Meg is taken aback at how mean Beatrix can be--and how difficult it is to stand up to her friend. But as Meg gets to know Hazel while working on their backyard beehive project, she starts to wonder: Is being Beatrix's friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?
This pitch-perfect exploration of middle-school friendship dynamics brims with heart and hope, and will resonate with readers of all ages.

Meg has a nervous nature. She and Beatrice have been friends for years. As they enter middle school, Meg is excited to be accepted into a special science class. She just doesn’t know how to tell Bea who will want Meg to join her in dance class as usual. Meg has felt Bea’s ‘freeze’ attitude before and doesn’t want to experience that again.

A new girl has moved into the neighborhood. Hazel is quirky and, to Meg’s horror, Hazel keeps beehives. Hazel and her mother attend a local party hosted by Bea’s mother. When Hazel unexpectedly becomes the center of attention, Bea quickly becomes jealous and starts to make fun of Hazel. When it slips that Meg is taking science Bea is angry that Meg didn’t tell her. Things get worse when Hazel becomes Meg’s science lab partner.

Meg’s mother encourages Meg to become friends with Hazel. But Meg is afraid of the bees that Hazel is so excited about. Meg is in a quandary caught between her childhood friend and the possibility of a making a new friend. Meg wants to stand up to Bea and her entourage who are making fun of Hazel and being mean to Meg too.

This is a story of middle-grade peer pressure and growth. I could feel Meg’s anguish and I didn’t care for Bea and her friends. I felt sorry for Bea too as she is willing to lose a good friend over her own self-importance. Hazel has her own emotional issues that children can relate to. I also loved the science of the bees and how the girls used that creatively in their science project and even in response to an effort to ban the beehives from town. I think this is an appropriate book for middle graders to read to understand the impact their behaviors can have on children who are new or different.

Source: Title from the publisher and NetGalley 2020. This qualifies for 2020 NetGalley goal.

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