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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Interview: Gillian McDunn, author of The Queen Bee and Me

I'm thrilled to have author Gillian McDunn stopping by today to chat about her new upcoming middle-grade book, The Queen Bee and Me...

The Queen Bee and Me 
By Gillian McDunn 
March 3, 20202 
Bloomsbury Children’s Books 

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? 


Q1. What three words best describe your book, The Queen Bee and Me? 

Friendship, science, beekeeping! 

Q2. Grab a copy of The Queen Bee and Me and answer the following: 

Favorite chapter? Chapter 24 (cafeteria scene).  

Favorite page? The very last one.  

Favorite setting? Ms. Dupart’s classroom 

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
 “I can’t believe you ate the bee-butt honey,” Beatrix whispers. 

Q3. What inspired The Queen Bee and Me? How did the story come to bee? 

Friendships are wonderful, but sometimes they can be tough. Watching my kids grow up and navigate these dynamics has made me reflect on situations in my own life. A lot of books have described bullying, but I was especially interested in “tricky” (sometimes called toxic) friendships—what happens when a friend is sometimes nice and sometimes not-so-nice.  

Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your main character Meg? What makes her special and what do you love about her? 

Meg is a keen observer who is trying to figure out her world. I love her loyalty—it’s part of why she feels so torn in her friendship with Beatrix. I also love that she makes mistakes! (And tries her best to fix them.) 

Q5. What do you hope readers learn and/or take away from The Queen Bee and Me? 

I hope readers will explore the idea that some best friends aren’t forever. Also, I hope that parents and kids will read the book together and have some honest discussions about friendship dynamics.  

Q6. In The Queen Bee and Me, Meg is working on a beehive project...what’s the neatest bee fact you learned while writing this book? 

One interesting honey bee fact is that worker bees have barbed stingers, which means they can only sting once--the barbs rip out the stinger, which creates a fatal injury to the bee. Queens have smooth stingers, so they can sting again and again. (Usually this would be in a fight for dominance against another queen.) 

Q7. Fill in the blanks: 

I’m really awesome at making scrambled eggs. 

I’m really embarrassed to admit how many pairs of socks I have. It’s more than one drawer full.  

The last great book I read was IN THE ROLE OF BRIE HUTCHENS... by Nicole Melleby. Brie is an eighth grader and soap opera super fan, and is extremely likable. In the story she’s dealing with growing up and coming out. I loved so many of the relationships and characters in this book! 

Q8. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Queen Bee and Me, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it? 

Cupcake flavor: honey-lavender (bees love lavender!) 
Filled with: orange-ricotta frosting (some things are even better once you dig into them)  
Frosted with: vanilla bean frosting tinted to match the pink on the cover Isabel Roxas created (I adore the cover!) 
Topped with: bee marshmallows, swirls of spun sugar, and crunchy honeycomb candy. 
It would be called BUZZ-WORTHY!  

GILLIAN McDUNN is the author of the middle-grade novels CATERPILLAR SUMMER and THE QUEEN BEE AND ME, published by Bloomsbury Children's Books. Visit her online at or @gillianmcdunn on Twitter & Instagram. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Awesome New Books from Nat Geo Kids

Today I'm sharing some wonderful new books, from National Geographic Kids and Society, that celebrate women, cute furry babies, and music...

By Jill Esbaum 
Nat Geo Society 

A wonderfully playful picture book showcasing adorable baby animals and celebrating their glorious diversity, from "paws and claws and little flippers" to "feet that look like fuzzy slippers!" 

This hilarious picture book with rollicking, rhyming text reads like a crowd-pleasing call, pumping up readers' excitement for the cutest baby animals ever. Illustrated with lively National Geographic photography, We Love Babies! presents furred, feathered, and finned baby animals of all shapes and sizes. Whimsical cartoon cheerleaders add to the fun, popping up throughout the book to lead fans in the irresistible refrain: "We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?" 

“an adorable and rollicking read-aloud… Bouncy rhymes and spot-on rhythms will delight little ears…. An eye-catching way to introduce older toddlers and preschoolers to the babies of our world.” - Kirkus 

With fun, lyrical rhymes and the most adorable, squee-worthy pictures of baby animals, little readers will be absolutely charmed by We Love Babies! and want to read it again and again!

By Sue Macy 
Nat Geo Society 

Award-winning author Sue Macy offers a fresh and timely account of women in sports in the 1920s, and how their determination, talent, and defiance in the face of criticism promoted women's rights, redefined femininity, and changed the course of history. 

Macy offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the journey of women's rights through the lens of women in sports during the pivotal decade of the 1920s. With elegant prose, poignant wit, and fascinating primary sources, Macy explores the many hurdles presented to female athletes as they stormed the field, stepped up to bat, and won the right to compete in sports. Featuring bold and talented heroines, this book documents how the social issues and morals of the decade--from politics to segregation to the media--helped shape the changing narratives around women and alter the course of history entirely. It is a fascinating window into a rich and seldom explored history, and also a topical reminder of the many discussions surrounding femininity and the role of women that continue today. 

Starred Review – “Macy writes perceptively about the history of American women’s sports.” - Booklist 
 "Art deco page designs, colorized archival photos, and reprinted news articles bring readers into the Roaring '20s,… A recommended introduction to an often overlooked aspect of feminist history.” -- Kirkus Reviews 
 "The content is direct and precise, its perspectives treated with nuance and care. Breaking Through is a stirring saga that uses excellent visual storytelling to capture a unique time in women’s athletic history." — Foreward 

Beautifully designed, inside and out, with fascinating, well-researched and presented information, this book is a captivating page-turner!

By Kitson Jazynka 
Nat Geo Kids 

Meet one of the most important figures in women's and U.S. history. Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving U.S. women the right to vote, learn about Susan B. Anthony's remarkable life, from her childhood to her groundbreaking work. 

National Geographic Kids Readers have been a hit in the beginning reader category, and this book builds upon that success with a new approach--parents and children reading together. With the same combination of careful text, brilliant photographs, and fun approach to high-interest subjects that has proved to be a winning formula with kids, National Geographic Co-readers provide one page of adult read-aloud and one page of kid read-aloud text on each spread, building toward a collaborative reading experience. 

By Barbara Kramer 
Nat Geo Kids 

Find out about the life of Harriet Tubman and how her brave actions working to "conduct" the Underground Railroad helped the Union Army in the Civil War lead more than 700 slaves to freedom. 

Learn about Harriet Tubman's life, achievements, and the challenges she faced along the way. The Level 2 text provides accessible, yet wide-ranging information for independent readers. 

National Geographic Readers have been a hit in the competitive beginning reader category, and this book builds on that success with the same careful text, brilliant photographs, and fun approach to high-interest biographies of fascinating people such as Harriet Tubman, has proved to be a winning formula with kids. 

With a fun layout, easily understood information, neat photographs and illustrations, and fun extras, these leveled reading books are perfect read-alouds to educate and entertain!

A Pitch-Perfect History of Music That Rocked The World 
Nat Geo Kids 

From classical to country, blues to rock, hip-hop to pop, crank up the volume and get ready to rock out with a comprehensive record of music through the ages. 

The high notes and biggest moments in music history are covered in this fun compendium. You'll learn about the world's most famous musicians through the eras, from Bach to the Beatles to Beyonce -- and beyond. Many major music genres are playfully explained, from tribal, classical, jazz, folk, rock ... all the way to today's modern forms, such as k-pop, hip-hop, and rap. Instruments and sounds are explored, along with places and events in history that inspired the evolution of music. Kids will also get a sense of music theory, instrumentation, and the artistry of distinctive musical styles. Song recommendations help readers open their ears to what they've learned. Add to that amazing images, a rockin' glossary of musical terms, and a timeline that plots each genre on its path from ancient history to today, and this book is bound to top the charts! 

This engaging book, with its cool, boldly colored design, super interesting information, and great photographs is an excellent and comprehensive look at the history of music!

**Disclaimer: I received copies of the titles above for review/feature purposes Al thoughts, opinions, and reviews are my own.