The Big Sting
The Big Sting
Bruno snapped his fingers again. “We’ll be the MI Hive! Get it? Like the MI5 but—”
“The MI Hive!” Bruno and Jin slapped five and began to buzz.
“Uh-oh,” Leo whispered as Grandpa flared his nostrils once again reminding him of the wild pigs in Applewood Acres 2: Hog Wild. His hands curled into fists and his cheeks turned tomato red. He took a deep breath, then bellowed, “GET OUT!”
Bruno slid off the countertop. “Now Sam—”
“All right, all right.” The Bumblers abandoned their mugs and hurried for the front door. “If you change your mind, we’ll—” Marguerite began.
“NOT ON YOUR LIFE!” Grandpa declared. They were barely out the door before he slammed it shut behind them. Then he spun to face Leo and Lizzie. “Never let them in again. Never let anyone in again! Got that?”
Before they could answer, he grabbed Everything Bees and stormed out.
Leo, 11, and his younger sister Lizzie are spending four days on British Columbia’s Heron Island with their recently widowed (and seemingly perpetually grumpy) grandfather while their parents take a spa vacation on a nearby island. Cautious Leo is a little unnerved by how potentially dangerous things are on the island: Grandpa drives much too quickly, has no qualms about hitchhiking, and sees nothing wrong with trespassing on his neighbours’ property. Lizzie, on the other hand, is enamored with a feral kitten (which she appropriately names Mayhem) and is always up for a new adventure. When Grandma’s beehives are stolen, Grandpa is both bereft and enraged, but also determined to get them back. What follows is an action-packed, riotous quest to solve the mystery of the missing hives, a quest which finds the characters tramping through muddy woods, searching suspects’ properties after dark, and confronting a wild pig and her young, among other adventures.
Delaney’s memorable cast of characters will strike a chord with tweens. Each possesses a key trait that masks their true complexity: curmudgeonly Grandpa is, in fact, a kind animal lover looking for a relationship with his grandchildren and a path forward after his wife’s death; rule-follower Leo (privately incensed that his father has decreed that he is most suited to a future as a paper-pushing actuary) secretly yearns for a just a little excitement; and intrepid feline whisperer Lizzie comes to accept that there are limits to how far one can push one’s parents. The kids’ adventures also hit just the right PG-danger note, particularly the hilariously ironic hitchhiking scene in which Leo and Lizzie get picked up by their parents. The inclusion of numerous groan-worthy puns (including HIVE A NICE DAY, which plays a central role in solving the mystery), references to computer adventure games (Applewood Acres 3: What’s the Buzz?), and plenty of BC island local colour add to the appeal of The Big Sting. Delaney has a proven track record in popular fiction; buy multiple copies if you can.
Kay Weisman is a former youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library and the author of If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden.