Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Queen Bee and Me

Rate this book
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?

288 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Gillian McDunn

5 books168 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
172 (45%)
4 stars
152 (40%)
3 stars
44 (11%)
2 stars
7 (1%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews
Profile Image for Victoria Coe.
Author 9 books96 followers
January 24, 2020
I absolutely loved THE QUEEN BEE & ME by Gillian McDunn! Here are the top 10 reasons why:

10. DOGS - Did you notice the Boston terrier on the cover?

9. MENTION OF GINGERBREAD ISLAND - Twice! (Enough said!)

8. BEE FACTS - The queen bee has a smooth stinger that she uses to help her lay eggs (that she sometimes also uses to fight - wow!). Cool facts about honey bees like this are carefully laid throughout the story and directly tie in to the characters (see #5 below).

7. NUANCE - There are so many MG books out there that feature friendship triangles, and/or that all-too-common situation where a character enters middle school (or a new school year) only to find their former best friend has done a 180. But until now, I haven't seen those kinds of complicated relationships played out with such nuance - so many gray areas. None of the characters is portrayed as all good or all bad or a good friend or a bad friend. The main character Meg is so thoughtful, so caring, and so real (see #1 below), in a way that's totally refreshing and relatable. I was never rooting for one friend over the other or one situation over the other. All I was rooting for was Meg (also see #1 below).

6. GIRL POSITIVITY - Here is a quote from page 163 of the ARC:

"I've heard the expression 'queen bee' before. It means a girl who likes to be in charge and run things, and maybe is a bit mean sometimes. It's a phrase that gives me a bad feeling. We don't have a word for boys who do that. I've heard 'alpha male,' but I don't think it's the same thing. Maybe the animal kingdom has no boy version of a queen bee. Or maybe, when a boy acts that way, it's considered normal, and we don't even notice. It makes me wonder what Mr. Thornton would have said if I told him the problem was between two boys. I don't think he would have called it DRAMA."

I don't know about you, but I have never seen thoughts along those lines from a main character before.

5. BEES AS A METAPHOR - The 'queen bee' explanation above notwithstanding, I love the way honey bees are used as a metaphor throughout the story. What Meg learns about honey bees directly applies to her character development, her navigating through her social situation, and her learning to see the world as a super organism. She also experiences healthy problem-solving when the hive is in jeopardy and the girls turn to a mentor for help. The parallels between the real queen bee and the human queen bee(s) are genius.

4. THE CLEVER WAYS THINGS WEAVE TOGETHER - I especially adore when character details and plot points all weave together and enhance each other. Wow, does this book ever do that! It seems that every aspect of this story is used in at least two ways. Not only the bees, but science, dance, real estate/town politics, game strategy, the relationship between art & science (I could go on)...

3. MS. DUPART'S SHOES - Actually everything about Ms. Dupart. Okay, I actually want to BE Ms. Dupart!

2. FACING YOUR FEARS - From the moment Meg mentions she's terrified of bees - like fainting terrified - you just know she's going to go inside the hive. But that's not the only fear she faces. I love, love, love that Gillian McDunn challenges Meg more than once, in BIG ways.

1. MEG - No spoilers, but this character who is so earnest, so pensive, so big-hearted, so loyal, so open-minded, so analytical, who tries so hard to succeed and do the right thing, ultimately realizes her biggest responsibility is to herself. HUGE. Just, HUGE.

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof of this book in exchange for an honest review. In case you couldn't tell by now, I highly recommend this story to middle grade readers!
Profile Image for Darla.
3,236 reviews480 followers
February 25, 2020
This is a welcome addition to middle grade literature. Meg and Beatrix have been friends since Kindergarten, but as they grow and change in middle school they realize that their interests are different. Beatrix's reaction is to try to control the friendship and that results in some bullying behavior. Meg tries to be the one who smooths things out and finds herself confused about what she really wants. In the midst of this conflict, Hazel comes to town. Hazel and Meg both love science and are paired up as lab partners. Their project is about honeybees and that gives our book the opportunity to educate the reader about the importance of bees to our ecosystem. I really loved the authentic relationships and kid conversations. Watch for this book. I think it will be winning some awards.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's Books and Edelweiss for providing a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
28 reviews4 followers
January 1, 2021
It was a good book. Made me consider changing my hate for bees and wasps, which is the only reason why it did not get 5 stars from me. Meg is such a interesting character to me! She never had to be brave or on her own before because she had Beatrix. What shall happen read it for yourself..........
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books62 followers
December 12, 2019
Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book for #bookportage.

Meg and Beatrix have been friends for many years, but Meg is starting to see a different side of her friend that's hard to like. When a new girl, Hazel, arrives at school who has her own sense of style, and an affinity for bees, Beatrix takes an immediate dislike to her. Meg ends up as Hazel's partner in their science elective, and the two girls hit it off, but Beatrix isn't going to let Meg walk away from her without a scene. The drama extends to the adults as Beatrix's mother want to get rid of the bees that Hazel and her mom recently moved to their new house.

I really loved how this story accurately captured how difficult changing friendship can be at this age. Not only do we see the power dynamics shift with the girls, but also their mothers, and I love that the author touched on the fact that grown women are not immune to difficult friendships, too. I loved watching Meg begin to figure out the kind of person she wants to be, and that she was the one to help her mom see a different perspective, too. We also learn some important factual information about bees and their importance to the environment.

This is a great middle grade story to pass along to students as they explore their own changing friendship dynamics and figuring out who they want to be. I will definitely be adding it to our library's collection when it comes out on March 3, 2020.
Profile Image for Jamie.
Author 10 books225 followers
January 28, 2020
This book handles the complexity of friendship with such authenticity and grace. You will fall in love with Meg as she negotiates middle school and her own changing identity as her friendships evolve. This really is a perfect read for any kid who has ever felt lost and then found again with new friends.
Profile Image for Susan.
488 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2020
4.5 Stars!! Meg and Beatrix have been best friends since kindergarten and Beatrix has always been the leader, which is just fine with Meg. In fact, it’s a comfort. Or it was until now when she realizes even though they are BFFs, Meg doesn’t always like Beatrix. For once, Meg would like to be allowed to make a decision that is best for her, not Beatrix. They’re in seventh grade, second semester is beginning soon and Meg has decided to go against Beatrix. Rather than do the dance elective, she’s going to be in the science elective class with just a few other seventh graders. The thing is, Beatrix doesn’t know it yet, because Meg is afraid to tell her. When Beatrix does find out, Meg’s life is forever changed.

I found myself cheering Meg on through every page of this story. She grew so much. She faced fear after fear and found courage she didn’t know she had. I admired her courage to decide to follow her love of science and to defy her BFF’s wishes. I admired her when she found the courage to come face to face with a bee hive. I admired her when she relaxed and let herself be friends with Hazel, despite her quirkiness. I admired her finding the courage to disagree with her mom and the neighborhood leaders when they waged war against Hazel’s bee hive. And finally I admired her courage when she made a presentation to the city council in support of the hive.

This story, out 3.3.20, will become a favorite of grades 4-8, I’m certain!

Profile Image for Angie.
3,619 reviews44 followers
June 17, 2021
Meg has always been best friends with Beatrix, which means they basically do whatever Beatrix wants. This year Meg wants to do science elective instead of dance and this causes tension between the two friends. It doesn't help that new girl Hazel has come to town at the same time. Hazel is a bit over the top and Beatrix immediately hates her. When Meg and Hazel become science partners things sour quickly between Meg and Beatrix. Meg and Hazel are working on a project on bees because Hazel and her mom keep bees. This is causing quite the stir in the neighborhood and Beatrix's mom is out to get them removed. Tensions rise, friendships fall. Middle school is not easy.

This was a good story illustrating how friends change in middle school. I wish it would have addressed Beatrix's bullying a bit more because that is what she was. She was a bully who made Hazel's life horrid and her mother joined in on the bullying. I thought the fight against the bees was way over the top, but maybe that is because I know how beneficial bees are and can't imagine anyone would want to get rid of them. Urban bee keeping is a thing after all. Made for good tension in the story I guess.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,580 reviews
February 4, 2020
I enjoyed the story and the writing but something didn’t click completely for me. It was realistic and well-written but I didn’t love any of the main characters and this was a problem for me. There is your typical dynamic of mean girl best friend (Beatrix) who the main character realizes is mean when a new girl (Hazel) moves to town (who then becomes her new best friend). I didn’t really like Meg’s family, especially her mom. She seemed to care more about what Beatrix’s family thought. There was no real redemption, at least in my option, with Meg’s mother or Beatrix. With Beatrix I was ok with that because she’s a child and that’s realistic. I wanted to love this but I just thought it was ok. I think middle schoolers looking for a more dramatic novel, with some light-hearted moments, will enjoy this. #Netgalley #ARC
Profile Image for Afoma (Reading Middle Grade).
533 reviews279 followers
March 21, 2021
If you’re looking for an immersive, complex book about middle-school (and adult) female friendships with a side of science and teaching kindness and empathy, this is for you. The Queen and Bee and Me is an engaging, realistic portrayal of how toxic a friendship can become (much like in Keep It Together, Keiko Carter ) and how important it is for young girls to recognize and remove themselves from such situations. This one will take you all the way back to middle-school. Love, love, and highly recommend. The audiobook (which I listened to) is fantastic.

Read my full review on my blog
Profile Image for Abby Cooper.
Author 9 books163 followers
July 24, 2020
A wonderful & important friendship story. Wish I had this book when I was in middle school!
Profile Image for Laurie.
864 reviews
March 18, 2020
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 5.5

When you have been best friends with your best friend your whole elementary life, does that guarantee you will stay best friends in middle school? Beatrix and Meg have been best friends since Kindergarten and Meg has always felt comfort in being in Beatrix's shadow. Middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix and Meg doesn't like them too much. Beatrix and Meg have been in dance together, even though Meg can't dance, she has always done it because that is what Beatrix wanted to do. When Meg is accepted into a new science elective she is thrilled but also terrified because she is afraid that Beatrix will pull "The Freeze" on her, just like she has before. Meg does not want to be on the receiving end of "the freeze" again. That is problem number one for Meg. Problem number two is this new girl named Hazel. From the minute Beatrix meets her she doesn't like her and begins to bully Hazel. Meg doesn't think it is right but she is too afraid to stand up to Beatrix, especially over some new girl. But when Meg and Hazel are paired together in the science elective, Meg learns that Hazel is a nice person in need of a friend. This enrages Beatrix even more and soon Meg may be the one who doesn't have any friends. Will Meg have the nerve to stand up to Beatrix over her bullying? Will Beatrix put "the freeze" on Meg so that no one in the school will like her? Will Beatrix and her mom succeed in getting Hazel's bee hives kicked out of the town? Read this incredible story of the love of family, the risks involved in standing up for what is right, and finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. ​

This has become one of my favorite books! I know there are so many kids out there that believe that they only way they will have a friend is to be in their shadows and be their puppet. Meg has been that friends for so long and she learns that when she finds her own voice it is very powerful! She is such an amazing role model to all of those kids to learn that they can come out of the shadows and be themselves!! Do not miss this book!!!

Follow me:

Blog - Blazer Tales - https://blazertales.com/
Facebook - Laurie’s Library Place - https://www.facebook.com/LauriesLibra...
Instagram - laurieslibrary - https://www.instagram.com/laurieslibr...
Twitter - @laurieevans27 https://twitter.com/laurieevans27?lan...
Goodreads - Laurie Purser - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1...
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/auburngirl2...
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCulD...
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-ev...

Profile Image for Brenda.
832 reviews35 followers
February 18, 2020
Friends since kindergarten, middle schoolers Meg and Beatrix are now experiencing a change in the dynamics of their friendship. Beatrix was always the sort of queen bee of the group, everyone followed her rules or they were frozen out of the group. But Meg starts to realize that it isn't the kind of friendship that works for her anymore. Hazel is such a fun character, she's spontaneous, creative and I appreciate she has her own style. She's a risk-taker and love how she was willing to wing it when making cookies. No recipe required, just experiment with adding different ingredients. The story is really an exploration of friendships and how they should be a give and take relationship. The importance of sticking up for ourselves and that sometimes when friends grow apart, the only thing you can do is" change yourself." This reminds me of Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel. They both utilize some of the characteristics of animals/insects and use them to explain human nature. In Vrabel's, the comparison was made between the main characters and a pack of wolves and in The Queen Bee and Me there was a comparison made between the various roles humans take and the roles honey bees take within their colony. I especially enjoyed all the interesting facts about bees and how they are so important to the environment. It flows nicely with the rest of the story and I think it makes for a wonderful story for kids interested in science as well.
*Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Bloomsbury Children's for the E-ARC*
Profile Image for Carrie.
49 reviews
January 18, 2020
Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and Gillian McDunn for providing Kid Lit Exchange with an advanced copy of The Queen Bee and Me, due to be released on 3-3-2020.

This middle grade novel is delightful!

Meg is a quiet, anxious preteen who has been swept along in her best-friend-since-kindergarten’s wake. She found comfort and safety in their friendship throughout elementary school, but as they entered the angst-ridden middle school years, Meg finds herself becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the mean Queen Bee tendencies that Beatrix is exhibiting.

When Hazel moves to their small town of Willow Pond, Meg reluctantly realizes that her friendship with Beatrix is no longer what she believes it to be.

McDunn helps the reader see the parallels between a beehive and the social systems of a typical middle school. As Meg and Hazel’s science project about honey bees unfolds, Meg begins to recognize those connections. She struggles to figure out what role she wants to play in the middle school hive, and in life.

Watching Meg’s evolution is reason enough to read this book, but the other primary characters are also well-developed, and any female who has lived through middle school will recognize the character types, perhaps recognize themselves, and thank heaven that those days are gone 😂

Add this to your must-read list or gift it to your favorite middle-schooler. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author! #kidlitexchange
Profile Image for Laurie Hnatiuk.
372 reviews
December 9, 2019
Thank you to Edelweiss plus, Gillian McDunn and publisher Bloomsbury Children's Books for the opportunity to read an ARC for our #bookportage group.

Well this book was a one sit read until the early hours of the morning, I simply could not put it down, Ms McDunn has captured what it is like to be a female in middle school.

Meg has been best friends with Beatrix since kindergarten, but now in seventh grade, things are not quite the same. Beatrix is the Queen Bee and Meg is finding that if you do not do what Beatrix likes or wants you to do, you suffer. When Meg has an opportunity to take a special science elective without Beatrix, she isn’t sure how to break the news to her. When new classmate Hazel, unknowingly shares to Beatrix that they are both taking the science elective before Meg tell Beatrix, the lines are drawn and Beatrix sets out to make Hazel’s life miserable by focusing on Hazel’s passion for beekeeping.

I know many readers will identify with The Freeze tactic that Meg suffers and how cleverly Beatrix is able to deliver cruel blows while it comes across sincere and sweet to adults. It is also crystal clear the girl’s behaviours are learned and reinforced by the relationships with their girl’s mothers which will not be lost on readers of this age group. We also learn a little bit about bees and the reasons why they are important to ecosystems which is a hot topic and again will be of interest to many readers without it being overwhelming and overpowering the story. Ms. McDunn has cleverly woven the science of bees into this story of friendship and finding your role in the hive. This will be a popular read and also a springboard for discussions. Another stellar addition to classrooms and libraries March 3/2020.
Profile Image for Joshua Levy.
Author 5 books76 followers
April 17, 2020
Gillian McDunn's CATERPILLAR SUMMER was a picture-perfect snapshot of challenging family dynamics in the middle-grade years. And she's done it again with THE QUEEN BEE AND ME, this time capturing the voice, the feel, the heartache, and the joy that are middle-school friendships.

Meg and Beatrix may be old friends--but (especially when new girl, Hazel, comes to town) Meg realizes that living in Beatrix's shadow might not be all it's cracked up to be. Full of insight into how friendships evolve and how those evolutions can be painful/awkward/confusing AND affirming/hilarious/important, THE QUEEN BEE AND ME is sure to capture hearts of middle-grade readers (and their parents and teachers) everywhere.

It's one of those "it's okay to be yourself" stories that I'm sure we'll BE(E) talking about for a long time. Lives up to all the buzz. :)
60 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2020
WOW! Gillian McDunn really gets middle school girl drama.
Meg Garrison and Beatrix Bailey have been friends since kindergarten but if Meg disagrees with her or wants to do something else, Beatrix “freezes” her out which has caused Meg to constantly worry about everything she says and does.
Hazel is a new student who dresses in her own style and raises bees. Meg and she become science project partners who have to spend time outside of school together. Beatrix doesn’t like it so she and her mother launch into attack mode getting the entire school and town involved while also putting Meg smack dab in the middle.
Profile Image for Jaymie.
1,990 reviews14 followers
March 10, 2020
[I received an electronic review copy of this book from Amazon in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

A friendship story centered around a new kid at school, a science class, and bees. I loved how Meg grew and changed over the course of the book - the exploration of her anxiety and fear about bees, public speaking, etc. as well as how she pushes through her fear (with varying results). The relationship with the resident "mean girl" provides great fodder for discussion for readers both at home and at school. I especially liked the ways Meg and her mom had to work through what Meg's relationship with both Beatrix and Hazel should look like - what does it mean to be a good friend? What behavior do you wrestle with and when is it okay to step away? Good stuff.
Profile Image for Martha.
1,248 reviews9 followers
July 23, 2020
The friendship of 12-year-old Beatrix and Meg will ring true for most middle-grade girls trying to find their place in the new social order of Middle School. Friends since kindergarten, Meg and Beatrix do everything together, organized always by Beatrix. When Meg decides to follow her own passion of enrolling in a science elective instead of joining Beatrix in a dance class, Beatrix's obsession, a backlash occurs. Following the missteps of Meg as she strives to keep her old friends as well as the new, coupled with the fragility of tween's feelings in Middle school is so effectively portrayed. The introduction of new girl Hazel who doesn't fit the mold of the popular crowd, gives the story a refreshingly surprising feel. Hazel is a beekeeper and introduces Meg, whose truly terrified of bees, into the sophisticated intracacies of the social order of bees. The message of believing in yourself, even when the tides are against you is so positively expressed. A well told story that will get a lot of buzz with tween readers.
Profile Image for Jess Redman.
Author 4 books268 followers
January 27, 2020
I loved CATERPILLAR SUMMER so much for its heart and humor and tenderness and fun. So I knew I was in for a treat with THE QUEEN BEE AND ME—and I was not disappointed! This story is about the sweet and the bitter of middle-school friendships, exploring boundaries, self-awareness, courage, and anxiety with a light but deeply perceptive touch.

Some of my favorite aspects of this story: I LOVED learning about bees! McDunn weaves bee facts and lore into her tale in a fascinating, never overpowering way that parallels the plot. Main character Meg asks all the right questions about how we as a society discuss gender and friendships. And—my favorite part—Meg makes mistakes! She isn't a perfect friend, but she learns and she grows and she models for readers how they can too.

Definitely a do-not-miss 2020 story that readers will be buzzing about!
Profile Image for Naomi Milliner.
Author 2 books69 followers
March 3, 2020
Gillian McDunn has done it again! Book #2 is every bit as heartwarming as her debut novel, CATERPILLAR SUMMER. Filled with a fantastic and relatable protagonist, fascinating factoids about bees, and a page-turning story, this one's the bee's knees. Enjoy, then share with all the tween girls you know!
Profile Image for Jody.
Author 3 books37 followers
December 29, 2019
Another winner from Gillian McDunn following her brilliant CATERPILLAR SUMMER debut. Navigating the complicated and changing friendships in middle school is no small feat. This novel captures those struggles and adds the wonderful science of beekeeping. Fascinating and captivating. Don't miss it in 2020!
Profile Image for Lori Palen.
207 reviews5 followers
March 11, 2020
There is so much to love about this book, but the excellent examples of effective science communication have a special place in my heart. :) Congratulations on another wonderful book, Gillian! I’m very much looking forward to the next one. :)
Profile Image for Bonnie Grover.
758 reviews7 followers
December 26, 2019
“Middle school is a moment. Figuring out who you are is hard.” Gillian McDunn has captured the dynamics of mid school perfectly. How do you keep your best friend from freezing you out? And how do you overlook unkind things that you don’t agree with in order to keep a friend? Meg has to navigate her way through some tough questions. “A friend should never make you feel like you have to prove yourself. The very most important kind of loyalty is when you manage to be loyal to yourself.” I know a lot about Queen Bees, but I learned a lot about honey bees and super organisms while reading this book and I’m certainly going to share it with my students.
Profile Image for Jenni Walsh.
Author 11 books351 followers
February 9, 2020
I very much enjoyed and devoured this book. The Queen Bee and Me has relatability, accessibility, appealability, notability. Basically, Gillian McDunn has all the abilities with this book. I really love the double use of "Queen Bee" in the title too, referring not only to the queen bee in middle school but also the queen bee within the hive and how both play into this marvelous book.
Profile Image for Robin Hall.
Author 1 book4 followers
March 2, 2020
Oh, I'm in love. I just read the last line, and my heart is so . Middle school isn't always easy. Friendships that once felt fun and smooth can feel like walking a field of landmines. Gillian McDunn navigated the struggles and beauties of middle school, old friends, new friends, and being true to ourselves. This is also a great read for the scientist inside each of us. I learned so many fascinating bee facts while learning also with Meg. Here's to figuring out who we are and being true to ourselves.

Here's a little taste.
"Beatrix Bailey is my best friend. I love her, but I don't always like her.
The thought is sharp, like it's made of broken glass. But if feels like the truth. Maybe that's why it hurts so much." ❤❤❤ The Queen Bee and Me is out March 3rd.
Profile Image for Rebecca Petruck.
Author 2 books99 followers
July 27, 2019
This kind, thoughtful look at friendship is as much a superorganism as the beehive in the novel! McDunn has a deft, gentle touch in pointing out the roles we each play in our relationships, including the negative ones. I know young readers, especially girls, will appreciate having someone acknowledge, without judgment, that sometimes we all make mistakes. The important thing is how we behave afterward. "Bee Kind" may be a cliched pun, but truly it's always a good place to start. We are all superorganisms! <3
Profile Image for Rajani LaRocca.
Author 22 books427 followers
August 13, 2019
This beautiful book perfectly captures the ups and downs of middle grade friendship. "A best friend is the door to a whole world"...but what happens when your best friend since forever acts in ways that hurt you and others? This is what the main character Meg has to navigate in her friendship with Beatrix. When a new, "odd" girl moves to their small town and Beatrix immediately dislikes her, how does Meg balance that against the person she wants to be? Paired with information about bees, the topic of a research project in school, this book is a wonderful, nuanced middle grade read.
Profile Image for Aimee Lucido.
Author 3 books58 followers
January 4, 2020
I loved this book! Toxic friendships are such an important part of middle school and they don't get enough air time in books, at least not where the message is "it's OK to not be friends anymore" which is what THE QUEEN BEE AND ME does. I thought the metaphor between the literal beehive and the figurative one was smart and well done, and I loved how carefully the characters and their interactions were constructed. Fantastic book!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.