Tundra is very excited to be publishing The Big Sting on February 7, 2023! Written by Rachelle Delaney, The Big Sting follows Leo, whose visit to his grandfather’s farm is turned upside down when his late grandmother’s beehives go missing!
Scroll down for the full bee-utiful cover plus a Q&A with Rachelle Delaney!
The Big Sting
By Rachelle Delaney
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269309 | Tundra Books
Release Date: February 7, 2023
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.
Q&A with Rachelle Delaney
What inspired The Big Sting?
A few years ago, I learned about hive heists, which is another term for bee theft. I’d never heard of a hive heist before, and I was intrigued. I quickly started brainstorming ideas for a story, though it took me a long time to decide on a setting. Eventually I settled on one close to home: a fictional Gulf Island off the coast of BC. I live in Vancouver and visit the islands a few times a year. They’re beautiful and quirky, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to set a story there.
Did you have to do any research? What was the most fun/interesting fact you learned?
I love doing research for novels, and this was no exception. I learned all I could about hive heists from articles and podcasts. I did a lot of research into bees too. Unfortunately, this was during the height of the pandemic, so there weren’t many opportunities to meet with people in person. But I did Zoom calls with my beekeeper friend, Jode, who answered many, many questions.
The most amazing fact I learned is that one of the most expensive honeys in the world is produced in a cave in northeastern Turkey. The cave is so deep it takes a team of mountaineers to harvest it. It’s called Elvish honey, and it costs almost $7,000 per gram!
Without spoiling anything, what was your favourite moment to write in The Big Sting?
One of my favourite parts is when the Heron Island Bumblers – a group of geriatric beekeepers – descend on Leo’s grandpa’s house to help solve the crime. I loved writing their dialogue and interactions with Grandpa, who is not a fan of the Bumblers. Also, the scene is FULL of bee puns.
Do you think Leo would be friends with Alice Fleck?
Oh, I think so. Leo and Alice are both clever, curious and braver than they think. They have very different interests, but I don’t think that would stop them from being friends.
Which character is the most like you or the most like someone you know?
Like Leo, I’m a bit of a catastrophizer – I tend to think of everything that can go wrong before taking a risk. But I love having adventures (within reason), so I try to push past most fears. When I described how Leo feels bold and capable after climbing Heron Mountain, I was definitely writing from experience.
How many cover drafts did you see before this one was finalized?
I think I saw three drafts before it was finalized. It’s so fascinating to see a cover come together. I think the illustrator, Morgan Goble, and the designer, Emma Dolan, did an incredible job.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever given or received?
The other day, my 14-year-old niece and I were talking about how hard it is to write when you don’t want to make mistakes – when you want everything to turn out RIGHT. It can be totally paralyzing, and it can take the fun out of writing. It’s so important to give yourself permission to play with writing, experiment and have fun. I have to remind myself of this all the time.
What have you been reading lately?
I’ve been reading – and loving – Norwegian author Maria Parr’s books. She writes delightful middle-grade novels (translated into English, of course) set in the mountains and fjords of Norway. They’re the perfect blend of humour and adventure.
Also by Rachelle Delaney:
Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
By Rachelle Delaney
256 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269279 | Puffin Canada
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been helping him recreate meals from the past – a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight. And that’s just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition. It’s up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.
By Rachelle Delaney
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143198543 | Puffin Canada
Clara can’t believe her no-nonsense grandmother has just up and moved to Florida, leaving Clara and her mother on their own for the first time. This means her mother can finally “follow her bliss,” which involves moving to a tiny apartment in Kensington Market, working at a herbal remedy shop and trying to develop her so-called mystical powers. Clara tries to make the best of a bad situation by joining the newspaper staff at her new middle school, where she can sharpen her investigative journalistic skills and tell the kind of hard-news stories her grandmother appreciated. But the editor relegates her to boring news stories and worse . . . the horoscopes. Worse yet, her horoscopes come true, and soon everyone at school is talking about Clara Voyant, the talented fortune-teller. Clara is horrified – horoscopes and clairvoyance aren’t real, she insists, just like her grandmother always told her. But when a mystery unfolds at school, she finds herself in a strange situation: having an opportunity to prove herself as an investigative journalist . . . with the help of her own mystical powers.
The Bonaventure Adventures
By Rachelle Delaney
288 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143198512 | Puffin Canada
Sebastian Konstantinov has grown up in a travelling circus, surrounded by talented performers. Seb, however, has no circus skills at all. He can’t even turn a somersault. But he does know this: the old-fashioned circus his father founded is out of date and running low on money. If someone doesn’t figure out how to save it, the Konstantinovs will be in real trouble. Seb thinks he may have the answer, and it involves attending the highly selective Bonaventure Circus School in Montreal, Canada. Seb secretly writes to the school’s Directrice (conveniently leaving out the part about his lack of circus skills), and to his surprise, he gets accepted right away. Now all he has to do is keep his lack of talent a secret. But it turns out that Seb is not the only one with secrets. The school is literally crumbling beneath the students’ feet, and the Directrice is counting on Seb’s “talent” to save it.