Middle Grade Review: Zinnia and the Bees


Author: Danielle Davis
Rating: 5/5

32179015I received a free eARC of ZINNIA AND THE BEES by Danielle Davis from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A colony of honeybees mistakes seventh-grader Zinnia’s hair for a hive ― and that’s the least of her problems. While Zinnia’s classmates are celebrating the last day of seventh grade, she’s in the vice principal’s office, serving detention. Her offense? Harmlessly yarn-bombing a statue of the school mascot. When Zinnia rushes home to commiserate with her older brother and best friend, Adam, she’s devastated to discover that he’s gone ― with no explanation. Zinnia’s day surely can’t get any worse . . . until a colony of honeybees inhabits her hive-like hair! Infused with magical realism, Danielle Davis delivers a quirky, heartfelt debut, exploring both the complex life of a young loner and a comical hive of honeybees. Together, these alternating and unexpected perspectives will touch anyone who has ever felt alone, betrayed, or misunderstood.

I requested this eARC only knowing that it was a middle grade book that involved bees. I love MG stories and I love bees, so I figured I would enjoy this book. Turns out, I more than enjoyed this book- I loved it.

Zinnia is a 7th grader who lives with her 18 year old brother Adam (who she feels is her best friend) and Dr. Flossdrop, her dentist mom who seems to care more about her community action group than her actual children. The book opens with Zinnia and Adam yarn bombing the school mascot, Ronny the Rattlesnake. If you’re unaware of what yarn bombing is, here’s a picture:


That is the beginning of Zinnia’s very bad day. After someone snitches on her, she is forced to stay the entire last day of school in the principal’s office while her classmates enjoy a day of cupcakes and games. When she arrives home that afternoon, she finds out that Adam has disappeared, taking only his clothes… and leaving Zinnia the work boots that had belonged to their father, a gift he had given to Adam before he died. Dr. Flossdrop appears to not care that her oldest has gone missing and instead of comforting Zinnia, she sends her out of her office.

To make a bad day even worse, Zinnia attracts a swarm of bees who, thanks to Bee 641, think her hair is their new home.

Danielle Davis writes a simple story that packs a punch. I love that Zinnia can admit when she’s wrong and that she also has the introspection needed to realize that sometimes her problems are her own fault. The friendship that develops between Zinnia and Birch is real and honest. Even when they have a fight, it isn’t some dramatic falling out and their apologies are simple.

There are a beautiful cast of characters in this story and they are all well fleshed out, even the adults, which is something that usually lacks in middle grade fiction. I loved that Mildred’s Queerness wasn’t a huge deal and the way she and her girlfriend were described was so well done, I almost cried. I also loved Lou. He vaguely reminded me of Mr. Bobo from Coraline (but less creepy and without the mice). It was refreshing to see all the adults be there for Zinnia, even if it did take time for her mother to get there. I also LOVED the chapters told from the bees perspective.

All in all, this was a delightful tale about a sad girl, her new friend, and the bees that just want to find a home


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