Monday, May 8, 2023

THE BIG STING by Rachelle Delaney

Short girl and taller boy carrying books in front of a hill with bees around them

Why this book?

Since I love books about nature and all its creatures, I was intrigued to read a story involving bees. I also know that Rachelle Delaney’s books usually have some kind of mystery to solve—and missing beehives is certainly a unique premise.

 I was having so much fun I read this story in one day, and actually laughed out loud a few times. The characters are believable and I loved the idea that Grandpa was leading his more cautious grandson on adventures.

This story also referred to some interesting professions (such as auditor) and included some fun names for computer games, like Applewood Acres. The games sounded so fun I wished they were real! I really enjoyed this book! From a writer’s perspective, I think it would be a good mentor text for anyone writing a contemporary middle grade novel.

Connections: mysteries, neighborhood adventures, bees

Activity Ideas:

Social Emotional Learning: The story mentions several personality types related to an online personality quiz: Auditor, Adventurer, Problem-Solver and Counselor. List the characteristics of each personality. Which ones do you most relate to? What kind of career interests you? Does it fit with your personality type?

Literacy: What are some of the obstacles that Leo faced as they worked to find the missing beehives? How did his character change by the end of the story?

STEAM: Research bees and design a model of a beehive using materials of your choice. Or build a real bee habitat to install outdoors.

MEDIA: Design your own computer game idea by making up a name and rules for how to play. Create an ad for your game in a format of your choice (poster, video).


Additional Resources:

25 Bee Activities for Middle Schoolers - Link here.

For my thoughts on some other books by Rachelle Delaney, click on the titles:

The Metro Dogs of Moscow  

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster

Book description from the publisher (to visit the publisher click here):   

A visit to Leo's grandfather's farm turns upside down when his grandmother's bee hives are stolen. A light-hearted and funny middle-grade novel for fans of Rebecca Stead and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Eleven-year-old Leo is an "armchair adventurer." This, according to Dad, means he'd choose adventures in books or video games over real-life experiences. And while Leo hates the label, he can’t argue with it. Unlike his little sister Lizzie, Leo is not a risk-taker.  

So when he, Lizzie, Mom and Dad leave the city to visit Grandpa on Heron Island, Leo finds all kinds of dangers to avoid — from the deep, dark ocean to an old barn on the verge of collapse. But nothing on the island is more fearsome than Grandpa himself — Leo has never met anyone so grumpy! According to Mom, Grandpa is still grieving the recent death of his wife, a beekeeper beloved by everyone on the island.

Despite Leo's best efforts to avoid it, adventure finds him anyway when Grandma’s beehives go missing in the dead of night. Infuriated, Grandpa vows to track down the sticky-fingered thieves himself . . .  with risk-averse Leo and danger-loving Lizzie (plus a kitten named Mayhem) in tow.

The Big Sting, written by Rachelle Delaney was published by Tundra Books in 2023.

 Other reviews of this book (click on title):



 To find more middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, organized by Greg Pattridge over at his blog.


  1. Thanks for this review about a contemporary mystery for MG readers and writers. Always looking for MG family mysteries w/o murder and mayhem.

  2. This sounds a great story, and I love the fact that it features bees. Bees are such incredible creatures, absolutely fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This does sound like a lot of fun. Loved all the activity suggestions too. Happy MMGM

  4. Your description of the plot has me anxious to read this one. Contemporary MG stories are always my favorites. The main character adds to what sounds like a memorable read.. Thanks for sharing the book on today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

  5. This sounds like a cool book with the focus on bees and the mystery of what happened to the beehives. Thanks for featuring it this week.

  6. This sounds like a really unique story. Will definitely get a copy and send one to my sister-in-law who raises bees. Missing beehives -- clever idea.

  7. My parents were beekeepers, so a book about stolen bees is pretty interesting to me. It sounds like a terrific book. Thanks for telling me about it. I'll look for it.


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