Robbie Shell, a former business journalist and co-author of a book on leadership, turned her attention to honeybees when her brother, a beekeeper, brought her jars of honey harvested from his backyard hives. Her middle-grade environmental fiction novel, “Bees on the Roof,” tells the story of four seventh graders competing in a science competition but also educates young readers about the importance of honeybees to our environment and the dangers they face from the still mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder. A graduate of Princeton University, Robbie grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Charlottesville, Va., Boston, Mass., New York City and Washington, D.C. She and her husband now live in Philadelphia, where they raised their two sons. She has never been stung by a honeybee. (Wasps are a different story.)
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ROBBIE SHELL:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author is Robbie Shell, author of BEES ON THE ROOF, a middle-grade environmental fiction novel that highlights the importance of honeybees.
Her attention turned from business journalism to honeybees when her brother brought her honey harvested from his own hives.
BEES ON THE ROOF has received the LitPick Top Choice Book Review Award.
One student book reviewer said, “The underlying theme of the story is that you are never too young to make a difference. This is a wonderful book with a clear and interesting plot. It inspires people to make a change in their lifestyle, helping create a more sustainable environment.”
Be sure to check out the animated review on YouTube (https://youtu.be/YEdirLG9xRk).
***How did you get started writing?
I started out as a reporter in Washington, D.C., covering local news and then moving up to cover the White House and U.S. Supreme Court. I also covered business issues for magazines and newspapers.
I had always loved to write, starting back in third grade when I won the class reading contest: I read 324 books -- and wrote short one-page 'book reviews' of each -- during the school year. My prize was five books and a radio!
***Who influenced you?
My mother read to us a lot when we were little, so I just picked up the habit of reading as I got older. I realized I liked doing word puzzles, and that led to reporting, which is taking a lot of facts, sorting them through from the most important to the least important, and then presenting them to the audience.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
It turned out I fell in love with honeybees when I saw them marching into a hive to start the work of taking care of their queen and producing honey, so I wrote this book about it. Two of my favorite books for young people are BUD, NOT BUDDY and CHARLOTTE’S WEB. (Who doesn't like that one?)
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Think of something or someone who really interests you, and sit down and write a sentence. That first one is the hardest.
***Where is your favorite place to write?
I write in my study at home.
***What else would you like to tell us?
Get to know honeybees -- they are admirable insects. They emphasize teamwork, efficiency, care for their queen, and there are no 'hotdogs' like you find in sports and entertainment. Honeybees are humble, hardworking insects and we could learn a lot from them.
Robbie, thanks for joining us for an author interview. We loved finding out how your writing path has evolved and changed over time. It shows us that any spark of inspiration can create a wildfire! We love that you have pursued your passion and written a book that opens our eyes to the importance of honeybees and the lessons they can teach us. We can’t wait to find out what you’re working on next.