I’m amazed to be sharing the second knitting hero* in one week! Zinnia and the Bees opens with Zinnia and her older brother yarn bombing the middle school mascot, Ronny the rattlesnake.For those unfamiliar with yarn bombing, it is street art for knitters—covering bike racks, parking meters, and other items in the public eye with knitting or crocheting. Check out some beautiful examples here.
Zinnia is a twelve year-old girl with what can only be described as a knitting compulsion. Her passion for knitting becomes compulsive (or more compulsive) when her brother Adam disappears, leaving her with their emotionally absent mother. Their mother, Dr. Flossdrop, communicates with Zinnia almost exclusively by leaving post-it notes on their door.
When Dr. Flossdrop refuses to talk to Zinnia about Adam leaving, Zinnia decides that she’ll have to search for him herself. She decides to begin the search at Adam’s favorite hangout—an ice cream parlor. And that’s where she runs into THE BEES.
I have to admit that bees are one of my irrational fears. Put me in a room with a bee, a wasp, anything with a stinger and a buzz, and the flying menace is the only thing I can concentrate on. It’s become a bit of a joke among those who know me well (or, frankly, those who know me at all but have been in the room with me during these unpleasant encounters).
So I was both fascinated and horrified by the description of the cloud of bees following Zinnia from the ice cream parlor. In that chapter, author Danielle Davis essentially described my nightmare come true. But when the bees catch up with Zinnia, unlike in my nightmares, the bees don’t sting her. Instead, 4,000 bees take up residence in Zinnia’s hair (I’m not sure that’s much better than being stung).
The buzzing and tingling feelings are ever-present reminders of the bees throughout the book. Zinnia hides her hair under a sweater hood so that no one will see the bees.
Zinnia needs to figure out how to get rid of the bees in her hair and how to find her brother. She feels completely lost and doesn’t know where to start. But then she meets Birch, who is visiting his uncle for the summer. Birch offers to help find a solution for the bees. Through her time with Birch, Zinnia learns about friendship and about herself.
This is a fantastic debut novel by Ms. Davis. She explores emotional themes of parental loss, family relationship struggles, former friendships, and personal growth with an excellent touch for the middle-grade reader. Zinnia and the Bees is a tough book to put down (another set of late nights . . .).
Zinnia and the Bees will be released on August 1, 2017. I received an advanced reader copy of the book so that I could provide an unbiased review.
Ms. Davis is online at www.danielledavisreadsandwrites.com. You can download a discussion guide (which includes Ms. Davis’s answers to questions, so it’s also like having a mini author interview) and facts about honeybees.
Have you read any great books lately?
*Wilf the Mighty Worrier loves to knit too!