Thursday, June 07, 2018

At Last! Honey by David Ezra Stein

Bear has just awakened from his long winter's nap.

It was his second year!

"I'm back!"

And he's really, really hungry. The first thing he wants to eat is honey! Who could forget that!

Warm! Sweet! Sparkling with sunlight!

And he remembers right where to find it. Bear heads for the hollow in the honey tree and pokes his snout right into the hole.


Bees don't like to be bothered!

It's not time for honey!

Bear runs for the stream and sticks his aching nose in the clear, cold water. He notices the waterfall splashing and rests for a moment on the new green grass, watching the little clouds floating above across the sky.

In a few days he notices that some of the green bushes have berries ripening. Bear comes back every day to fill his tummy with the sweet, juicy berries. Yum! Summer is beautiful and summer is delicious.

What is so rare as a day in June And yet, there is something else that Bear can't quite forget.

But then one day he hears something, a buzz-buzz that grows louder as he gets nearer to that special tree.

It was time for honey.

And it was just as delicious as he remembered. But as the Bard said, Summer's lease hath all too short a stay. And as signs of fall begin to appear, Bear knows that he will have happy summer memories and that there will be honey again next year.

David Ezra Stein's Honey (Nancy Paulsen Books/Random House, 2018) is a poignant celebration of the joys of spring and summer, a sweet salute to the season that reminds us that summer's bounty is a renewing joy, one that both people and bears await each year. After his long sleep Bear gets to appreciate the renewal of his world and its pleasures, simply described in author David Ezra Stein's spare but lyrical prose narrative that reaffirms the wisdom that there is a time for everything and everything worth waiting for comes in its own good time.

Artist Stein uses modest-sized illustrations, with squiggly lines and watercolors loosely applied in a faux naif style that fits Bear's simple thoughts in a soft homage to the season that affirms that good things are worth waiting for. As School Library Journal notes, "Stein's pen-and-watercolor illustrations are suffused with loose, childlike exuberance, while their relatively small scale (each page is bordered with ample white space) invites a sense of intimacy."

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