Hooked on Books with Rachelle Delaney’s ‘The Big Sting’

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Hooked on Books with Rachelle Delaney’s ‘The Big Sting’

As summer break beckons, parents and teachers are pondering how to ignite students' interest in reading for fun. At Teachers on Call, our in-person and online English tutors understand the importance of fostering a love for literature and learning. This is why we're big fans of the Forest of Reading program. With thoughtfully curated lists, this initiative provides the perfect gateway to recreational reading for kids of all ages. In our latest Hooked on Books blog, we're excited to spotlight Vancouver acclaimed author, Rachelle Delaney. Join us as we dive into an interview with Rachelle to explore her Forest of Reading nominated title, The Big Sting, centered around an "armchair adventurer" who learns to take risks. Read on for the inside scoop on what she’s writing next!

How Forest of Reading Nominated Titles Inspire Summer Reading

Do you wonder how to get your child(ren) interested to read over the summer months? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Run by the Ontario Library Association, the Forest of Reading initiative is our country’s largest recreational reading program where children and young adult readers select the winning books. The titles chosen are all Canadian, so it is a true celebration to spotlight books, publishers, authors and illustrators from coast to coast. The year-long celebration culminates in the 2-day Festival annually in mid-May when the winners are revealed in downtown Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8).

While the award recipients have been announced, it’s not too late to start or continue reading Forest of Reading books! Our in-person and online tutoring service often hear parents comment that they are sorry their kids did not participate during the school year. Good news, the learning does not need to end, as these curated lists make for great end-of-school year and summer reading. Even for students enrolled in the program all year, there is still reading room given that participants are required to read a minimum of five out of the 10 nominated titles. 

Read on for our Hooked on Books interview with one of the Forest of Reading’s most popular authors, Rachelle Delaney!

About our Author: Rachelle Delaney

Rachelle Delaney is a Canadian author, known for her middle-school novels for young readers. Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Rachelle currently calls Vancouver, British Columbia home. Rachelle has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus: 2329 West Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4 and Okanagan campus: 3333 University Way, Kelowna, BC Canada V1V 1V7) and a BA in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies from University of Victoria (3800 Finnerty Rd, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2).

An Interview with Rachelle Delaney

Check out Rachelle’s answers to our questions below!

For Forest fans who have not read The Big Sting yet, what is it about?

The Big Sting tells the story of an eleven-year-old named Leo, who is not an adventurer (unlike his little sister Lizzie, who lives to take risks). Leo, Lizzie and their parents are visiting Leo’s grandpa on Heron Island in Western British Columbia. It’s Leo’s first time on the island, and he’s on high alert for potential dangers, including his grumpy grandpa. Leo’s grandma, a beekeeper, recently passed away, and this has made Grandpa even more short-tempered than usual. Despite Leo’s best efforts to keep adventure at bay, it finds him when his grandma’s beehives go missing one night. Grandpa is furious, and he vows to track down the thieves himself — with risk-averse Leo and adventure-loving Lizzie in tow.

What inspired you to write this mystery novel?

I got the idea for The Big Sting from a news article I read about six years ago. It told the story of a hive heist in the California: a beekeeper woke up one morning to find that all his beehives — almost 500 hives — had gone missing. This made me wonder: why would anyone steal bees? And not just a few bees, but tens of thousands of bees? I started to read about hive heists and learned that they happen all over the world, even in Canada. I was intrigued! I had never heard about bee crime, and I knew I wanted to somehow work it into a novel.

Congratulations on your Silver Birch Award nomination. What does the Forest of Reading program mean to you personally?

The Forest of Reading is an incredible program. I’ve been fortunate to have a few other novels nominated in the past, and these books were read by thousands of students who might never have heard of them otherwise. I didn’t get to participate in the Festival in person this year, but nominated authors can do virtual visits and still participate online if they can’t make it to Toronto. It’s wonderful that the program is now open to schools and students throughout Canada. 

Your protagonist is described as an “armchair adventurer”. What do you hope students learn from Leo about taking risks?

Everyone has a different comfort level for risk and adventure, and that’s a good thing. Leo is never going to be an adventure-seeker like his sister — it’s just not who he is. But going on an adventure (even though he didn’t want to) helped him learn a little more about himself and about a place he’d never experienced before. I’m not a terribly adventurous person, but I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone now and then, and like Leo I always learn so much.

You have written many successful and popular novels for young readers. Do you have a favourite?

It’s too hard to pick a favourite! I do have a soft spot for The Big Sting and Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster, but that might just be because I wrote them fairly recently and they’re fresh in my mind. 

Living in Vancouver, BC, do you have a frequent reading and writing nook?

I have a 13-month-old toddler, so these days if I want to get any writing done, I have to leave the house! I usually go to my local coffee shop.

For fans and educators interested in organizing author visits, where can they find you?

The best way is to get in touch via the contact form on my website: rachelledelaney.com.

Young readers want to know, what are you writing about next?

I’m working (slowly, due to the above-mentioned toddler) on a middle grade novel about bird migration. I’ve had the idea in my head for nearly ten years, and I think it might finally be time to write it. 

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We hope you enjoy our interview with Vancouver based author, Rachelle Delaney. If looking for further summer reading inspiration, check out the full list of 2024 Forest of Reading nominated titles here.

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