The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn
Release date: March 3, 2020
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Children's in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Meg has been friends with confident, self-assured Beatrix since kindergarten. She's always found comfort in Beatrix's shadow—even their families call them Beatrix-and-Meg. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick. Upsetting Beatrix means risking The Freeze—or worse.
Meg gets into a special science elective and wants to take the class, no matter what Beatrix thinks. But when quirky new girl Hazel becomes Meg's science partner, Beatrix sets her sights on Hazel. At first, 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: What's it really like to be the Queen Bee? And more importantly: Is being Beatrix's friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: One of the biggest challenge areas for middle schoolers is how friendships change and evolve. Gillian McDunn portrays this perfectly in her sophomore novel, The Queen Bee and Me.
Beatrix, Meg's best friend, has been changing the last few years - and not for the better. But in the girls' small town, making new friends is hard. And there's still some good to Beatrix! She's young, and she's clearly shaped by how her mother treats her and others. She's also super kind to Meg's little sister. But when new girl, Hazel, appears on the scene, she becomes the perfect target for Beatrix. If you're looking for a middle grade book about standing up for others and what's right, this would fit the bill. It's also a science-focused story, which is always great to find. Overall, I just really liked the nuances of how friendships change. It's a theme that even high schoolers, college students, and young adults can relate to.
Content warnings: bullying, frenemies, bee stings, anxiety, melissophobia
The Verdict: Another sweet middle grade story.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Most likely.