In 2007, David Ezra Stein published Leaves, the story of a bear's first autumn and the surprise of leaves falling from the trees. With sparse text and simple illustrations, Stein perfectly captures the glow of the season along with the curiosity and joy of a young child. Now, with Honey, (which is dedicated to bees) this charming bear, in his second year, is back! Waking from a winter of hibernating, he is hungry and his stomach is growling, "like another bear." Digging and scraping for things to eat, Bear remembers . . .
Although a bit more fluid and gestural, Stein's illustrations reminded me of the marvelous works of Arnold Lobel. With a muddy, sometimes grey palette, readers can almost feel the damp, crisp world the bear wakes to. Stein brightens this world with words and colors, especially when the bear is thinking about honey, which is, "warm, golden, sweet," and "spicy, aromatic, sparkling with sunlight." Honey is a book of patience as the bear realizes it is too soon for honey and he must wait for the bees to do their important work. Waiting, and the diversions that make waiting tolerable (I was going to say, "bearable," but it felt too punny. . .) make up the buoyant, playful middle of this book.
While everything from the sweet smell of the warm grass and the sap from the pine tree to the golden meadows and bursting berries reminding the bear of honey, the wait is not easy. But, when it finally is time for honey, the bear, "lapped it up and licked his paws for a long time," making for a very satisfying ending.
Source: Reiew Copy