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Honey by David Ezra Stein

This is a sweet and gentle picture book about a young bear who wakes from his first hibernation and remembers honey, that delightful treat he encountered in his first year of life. But it is early spring and there is no honey yet. Bear keeps going back to the tree where a bee colony lives and checking for honey, but “it was too soon for honey.” Everything reminds him of honey – the golden light of the sun, the flowing water of a stream, the scent of a tree in blossom. Bears makes do with eating grasses, pinecones, and berries. As the year goes on, Bear finds many other delights to occupy him – summer rains to play in, a waterfall to splash in, and lazy days of lying on his back watching the clouds. Then one day, Bear hears a buzz and the often-checked hive is now filled with honey! Bear eats his fill and is happy, his patience rewarded. As summer winds down, Bear contentedly remembers his summer and how good it had been, providing a feel-good, satisfying ending. With lovely pen-and-watercolor illustrations showing the bear’s natural environment. The book also uses descriptive language to lovely effect, with honey being described as warm, golden, sweet, sticky, spicy, aromatic, and sparkling with sunlight.

Note: I have one quibble with the book: in real life, cubs spend their second year with their mother, so the book isn’t scientifically accurate in depicting the bear as being on his own in his second year.

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