Mo O'Hara on Honey's Hive and illustrated chapter books for kids

Honey's Hive by Mo O'Hara. Book cover and author photo.
This month our Parakeet subscribers are enjoying a fun, illustrated minibeast adventure! Honey's Hive is a delightful early chapter book, the first in a fab new series that is perfect for newly independent readers and an easy pick for our Parakeet boxes for young readers aged 5+. It's packed with heart, humour and fantastic characters, not to mention beautifully detailed illustrations by Aya Kakeda throughoutWe're thrilled that author Mo O'Hara agreed to answer our questions about the book and which illustrated chapter books for kids she recommends you read next:

What inspired you to write Honey’s Hive?

It started because I was asked if I could write a funny book about bees. I’ve always thought bees were fascinating but never really learned much about them. As soon as I started looking into the lives of bees I was buzzing with excitement. The next step was to find a character and a problem that character was having. (That’s how I always start my story making.)  I thought… hmmm…  bees are really all about following rules and working as a group. But what if there was one bee who just didn’t fit in? What if she wanted to be her own bee? And the character of Honey started taking shape.  Then I had to find some fun friends for Honey and give them all a REALLY big problem to overcome. It was joy to write Honey’s Hive actually.  And I’m working on book three at the moment and still super excited about these characters and Honey’s bee world.

What research did you do for the book and did you learn anything about bees that surprised you?

I did soooooo much research for the Honey’s Hive series.  I read lots of books about bees, researched on the internet and watched countless videos of bees on YouTube.  The most fun I had though was going to meet a beekeeper and get to feed the bees in the beehives.  The most surprising thing I learned was how important the ‘waggle dance’ is for bees.  It’s basically like a personal Sat Nav through interpretive dance. It was so cool I had to write a song about it.  (When I do events there is a LOT of waggle dancing. 😊)

Which worker bee job do you think would best suit your skills?

I think I would end up being the larvae tending bee. At any family gathering I’m always the one who is cuddling the baby or playing with the toddler.  I would like to be a Scout Bee like Honey though. I have a good sense of direction, can follow a map, and I like long hikes.  I think my girl scout training would kick back in. 😊

What do you think is the most important lesson Honey learns?

I think the most important lesson Honey learns is to ‘Bee Yourself.’  She eventually finds a way to be a part of her community and help others but still be true to herself. That’s a valuable lesson for all of us.

Can you tell us anything about what happens next to Honey and her friends?

So, in book one Honey needs to find herself and her role in the hive. In book two I wanted to explore more environmental themes too.  And themes of looking out for other people (not just your community). Now, Honey and her hive are thriving and growing but they are using up a lot of the natural resources that other native bee species normally use. Can Honey and her hive learn to share the precious resources with others, help the planet and each other.  In book three Honey has to travel further than she’s ever gone and has to face her biggest fears.

Why did you choose to create books for this age group?

I LOVE writing for this age group.  I love doing events for kids this age as well.  They have a great sense of humour and they like lots of laughs in their books. They also really get into the fact finding in books and that’s a big thing for me.  I go over the top in fun facts and it’s great when the kids can share their own fun bee facts with me.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I like to write in my study at home but I don’t always sit at the desk. I have a sofa in there and I sometimes get my best writing done stretched out on the sofa with my laptop on half my lap and a snoozing cat sitting right behind it.  I’m sure the cats add to my creativity. 😉 (As I’m typing this there is a cat sleeping on my legs. Shhhh.)

Which other illustrated chapter books for younger readers would you recommend our subscribers read next? 

I would recommend the Sona Sharma series of books by Chitra Soundar (illustrated by Jen Khatun), the Major and Mynah series by Karen Owen (illustrated by Louise Farshaw) and the Big Sky Mountain series that is written and illustrated by Alex Milway. All three are funny, warm and have a strong girl at the heart of the story.  I really like to stay with a character or characters throughout a series and I think lots of younger readers do as well.  You get to know these characters and you want to see what they do next. It can feel like you’re visiting a friend when you are reading a book in a series that you love.

Copies of our Honey's Hive pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!


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