I'm not sure why it is that preschoolers have an insatiable appetite for picture books about bears, but it does seem to be true. Hands Off My Honey!, by Jane Chapman and her husband Tim Warnes, is a fun addition to the genre.
The book begins as Bear stomps, stamps, and bellows his way to a hollow, honey jar in hand, shouting out things like:
"Don't even try to take a pawful! I am the scariest bear in the forest and I won't share a single drop."
As Bear settles in to enjoy his honey, Mouse, the Rabbit Brothers, and Mole decide that they love honey, too, and are going to try to sneak some out of Bear's jar. A mostly stealthy adventure follows (Mole has a bit of difficulty keeping quiet), with a surprise at the end.
Hands Off My Honey! is read-aloud friendly, with lots of exclamations and sound effects ("Ooops!", "Flump!", etc.). It uses bold text and varied font sizes to encourage dramatic reading. I especially like Chapman's use of strong verbs ("rumbled", "trembled", "bellowed", "whizzed", etc.). Not fancy verbs necessarily, but strong, descriptive verbs. Like this:
"Mouse zipped to the left and right,
keeping to the shadows. The rabbits
raced behind, shivering excitedly.
Mouse waved to Mole, but as
he dodged a stinging nettle,
he tripped over a root,
OK, there's a vague antecedent in that last example (the picture makes it clear that Mole tripped). But still, it's a book that I look forward to reading aloud to my daughter, for sheer enjoyment of the language.
Warnes' illustrations are kid-friendly. Bear is shown larger than life, scowling as he yells, but smiling as he licks his honey. The smaller animals are cute, with expressive faces (usually smiling). The later illustrations, with honey everywhere are particularly funny. The fonts are sometimes large enough to factor in as part of the illustrations, too. In general, like the text, the pictures are full of action.
Hands Off My Honey! is a fun read-aloud with a surprise twist at the end. And it features a bear. I expect this one to become a family favorite. It's probably optimal for three to five year olds. Recommended!
Publisher: Tiger Tales Books (@TigerTalesBooks)
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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