Honey... Honey... Lion!

by Jan Brett (Author) Jan Brett (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Rise and Shine

After working together to obtain honey, the African honey badger always shares it with his partner, the honeyguide bird, until one day when the honey badger becomes greedy and his feathered friend decides to teach him a lesson.

The African plains provide a stunning environment for Jan Brett's latest animal adventure. For as long as anyone can remember, the honeyguide bird and the African honey badger have been partners when it comes to honey: Honeyguide finds the honeycomb, Badger breaks it open, and they share the sweetness inside. But this day, Badger keeps all the honey for himself. Foolish Badger! In no time, Honeyguide leads Badger on a fast chase. Badger thinks it's for honey; but Honeyguide has a surprise waiting for her greedy friend.

As they swim across a pond, push through a thicket of reeds, leap over a huge anthill, a menagerie of exotic animals passes the news along in a kind of animal Bush Telegraph. Finally Badger faces a lift-the-flap page, revealing the twist that teaches Badger a lesson. Can you guess who's under that flap? 

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Kirkus Review - Children

The cumulative patterns, sound effects and suspense, together with the dramatically depicted animals, will make this a popular choice for reading aloud.


Badger and Honeyguide's sound-effect-filled trek guarantees a lively read-aloud.

Hornbook Guide to Children

Brett's gouache and watercolor paintings feature realistic flora and fauna within intricate borders, and the text is full of effective read-aloud sound effects.

School Library Journal

This title is based on the legend of the honeyguide, an African bird that leads an animal to a honeycomb and then shares the spoils once the stronger creature has broken it open. In Brett's version, Honeyguide takes revenge upon a greedy honey badger that refuses to share the sweet treat. She leads him on a merry chase that ends up not at a honeycomb but at the lair of a lion. Badger's pursuit of the honeyguide and flight from the lion are reminiscent of -We're Going on a Bear Hunt, - with each landmark and sound effect revisited on the return journey. Brett has created another lush winner with beautifully detailed illustrations of the animals and a clear, fast-paced story. Honeyguide's anger and subsequent punishment of Badger is witnessed by the other animals that form a bush telegraph, passing news along from individual to individual. This process is visualized on the edges of each page in typical Brett style -a story within a story. This lovely title works equally well for storyhours or for one-on-one sharing. Readers interested in other versions of the legend can check out Francesca Martin's "The Honey Hunters" (Candlewick, 1994)." -Kara Schaff Dean, Needham Public Library, MA"

Copyright 2005 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Brett's ("The Umbrella") intricately detailed watercolor and gouache art spotlights the wildlife of Botswana's Okavango Delta, where the winged honeyguide, a sparrow-like bird, and a honey badger (whose markings resemble a skunk's) "are partners when it comes to honey." The little bird routinely guides Badger to beehives, where he uses his strong claws to break open the honeycomb and "together they share the sweetness." But one day, after Badger refuses to share, and the sly bird teaches him a lesson. She leads Badger over land and water crying, "Honey, honey, honey!" and brings him to an acacia tree. However, with a lift of the flap, readers discover that the tree's low-hanging branches camouflage not a hive but rather a ferocious-looking lion (one paw in evidence offers a clue). "Lion, lion, lion!" reads the text as the angry cat chases Badger (""Swish, swish" through the grass... "Boom, boom" over the hollow log") while Brett offers readers a stunning tour of this diverse and unique landscape. Badger reaches his burrow in the nick of time, and the delta's denizens spread the tale's humorous yet important moral about the importance of expressing appreciation. The spry narrative incorporates sound effects that make this a natural read-aloud, and the high spot is surely Brett's meticulous renderings of African animals and vegetation, presented against a parchment-like backdrop and framed by striking borders featuring beads and feathers. Readers may well feel as if they, like the author, have visited breathtaking Botswana. Ages 4-8. "(Aug.)"

Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Jan Brett
Jan Brett lives in a Seacoast town in Massachusetts close to where she grew up. She has over 40 million books in print and takes extensive research trips all over the world to craft the intricate details in her books. Her life-like illustrations of animals, landscapes, and cultural flourishes are adored for their classic beauty. Other fascinating areas of her life include being: an award-winning breeder of ornamental fowl (fancy chickens!), a 12-time Boston Marathon runner; and a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Putnam Publishing Group
Publication date
September 20, 2005
Rise and Shine
BISAC categories
JUV029000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | General
JUV002000 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | General
Library of Congress categories
Honey badger
Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
Parents Choice Award (Fall) (1998-2007)
Winner 2005 - 2005

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