The Big Honey Hunt
Posted by Tracy Poff on July 16, 2011
The Big Honey Hunt is the first Berenstain Bears book, from way back in 1962. It tells about how Papa Bear and Small Bear (who would later be called Brother Bear) go out to get some honey. Mama Bear has told them to go to the store, but Papa Bear thinks that buying honey is for suckers–-he’ll go get it from a honey tree. Of course, this has predictably (for those who know Papa Bear) disastrous results.
One thing I noticed when reading this is that the art style has really changed over the years. The bears are really very furry in these early books, with lots of individual hairs poking out from them, leaving them quite fuzzy looking. Compared to the well-groomed, styled look they have in later books, it’s quite different. It’s not just how furry they are, though–the characters are pretty unrecognizable. If they didn’t wear pretty much exactly the same clothes over the years, you probably wouldn’t guess that they were the same bears.
As for the story: it’s fun. Papa bear is his usual (in early books, anyway) incompetent but boastful self, and it gets him into trouble. The writing isn’t so great–some of the verse is rather awkward and uninspired (“But how will you/Do it, Dad?/How, Dad? How?” isn’t very good no matter how I look at it.). But, I doubt I really noticed as a child, unless I noticed that it was hard to read aloud, due to the meter being irregular.
The art is a bit simpler and much rougher in this book than later, but it’s charming. The trees have no outlines–just curved lines showing the texture of the bark on top of the color of the trunk. I like the way they look. Some of the leaves have outlines, but the trees are mostly just defined by the watercolor that the illustrations are colored in.
The Big Honey Hunt is a classic children’s book. It’s well worth the time to track it down and read it. Fortunately, in this age of the internet, it’s not hard to find a copy–there’s even a Kindle edition, though I wonder if the books would be quite the same without color.