cover image Honey... Honey... Lion!: A Story from Africa

Honey... Honey... Lion!: A Story from Africa

Jan Brett, . . Putnam, $16.99 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24463-6

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.)