Saturday, February 29, 2020

Book Review: The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn

Everyone immediately knows who the Queen Bee of their childhood was. Most of us have seen the movie Mean Girls which really dove into the phenomenon from a fictional POV. That movie was based on a sociology book called Queen Bees and Wannabees, which was great. And now we have a book for a slightly younger set (it's middle grade). Many books about bullying and about how the popular girl is really cruel are told from the viewpoint of the bullied. This one is different in that it's the best friend of the bully who is seeing negative changes in her once-nice friend.

Meg is used to being Meg-and-Beatrix and she's always loved that inclusion, that feeling of belonging. But when she meets new girl Hazel, Beatrix takes an immediate dislike to her and leads a charge against her--targeting Hazel for name-calling, pranks, and general bullying. Meg is assigned to be Hazel's lab partner in their science elective (and Beatrix is mad Meg is even taking the science elective as that means she's not taking dance--which is Beatrix's love--anymore.) And Meg tries to ride a fine line between staying friends with Beatrix--who Meg also knows from personal experience will turn on Meg too if Meg displeases her--and not being mean to Hazel, who Meg thinks is smart and quirky and lonely.

As you may already suspect, that's a hard line to ride, and Meg eventually falls off. Which side does she land on? Will she stick by her life-long best friend and turn on the weird new girl who has upended the usual order of things? Or will she befriend the unusual girl who keeps bees, and risk the wrath of Beatrix?

A great story for middle school girls who often face this sort of decision, and it's told from a more common point of view. In most schools there's only 1-2 Queen Bees and 1-2 bullied kids, and the whole mass of kids in between who are in similar situations as Meg, giving this book wide appeal.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Bloomsbury, which is distributed by Macmillan, my employer.

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