Review: The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn

The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn

The Queen Bee and Me
Gillian McDunn
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published March 3, 2020

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About The Queen Bee and Me

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 Queen Bee and Me on Goodreads

My Review

You know how some books have really great layering, where there are things happening between the adults that sort of bleed over into what’s happening with the kids, but the kids don’t always 100% get what’s happening between the adults?

I thought THE QUEEN BEE AND ME showed that kind of layering really well. Meg recognizes some of the pressure and manipulation in the way Beatrix treats her as being the way Beatrix’s mom speaks to others and wonders if Beatrix realizes she’s even copying that way.

Another thing that I really liked was that the message in the story wasn’t, “Beatrix is a bad friend, Meg just needs a new, better friend.” Instead, she has an opportunity to have a new friend, but that doesn’t fix all of what’s become so toxic in her relationship with Beatrix. Meg needs to learn to change how she behaves, not just change who she hangs out with. And I felt like that was a critically important, deeply insightful lesson.

As a mom with kids where there’s a huge age gap, I really appreciated this positive portrayal of a family with a big age gap between kids. I also thought Meg’s relationship with her mom felt very realistic and complex– definitely captured some of the kinds of struggles that can happen between parents and middle school kids.

If you can’t tell, I simply loved this book. I wish I could go back in time and give myself this book in late elementary school. THE QUEEN BEE AND ME is perfect for fans of books by Kate Messner or THE LIST by Patricia Forde.

The Queen Bee and Me on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are white. Meg deals with anxiety and specifically a fear of bees that can result in her fainting.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
None. There are a few instances of verbal manipulation and verbal bullying.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of THE QUEEN BEE AND ME in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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