The Honey Hunter by Karthika Naïr, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet

There are many things to celebrate about this book. The production value for one is perfect. The linocut print illustrations by Joëlle Jolivet are enchanting, the colours are vibrant and the imaginative layouts make the experience of reading even more pleasurable. The story is a modern day Indian fairy tale that encourages children to appreciate and respect nature.

This is one of those picture books that you save for best. Little Gestalten are fast becoming one of my favourite publishers of children’s books.

The story of the honey hunter begins in Sundarban, a land of eighteen tides and six seasons, where three rivers meet in a huge mangrove forest. At first, everything is peaceful for the thousands and thousands of honeybees that live there not far from the Bay of Bengal. They fly from flower to flower, collect nectar, and supply both people and animals with their sweet, liquid gold. Everyone who lives in Sundarban loves honey, but one most of all: a small, black-haired boy named Shonu.

One year, the seasons in Sundarban get mixed up and the region is plagued by powerful cyclones followed by drought and hunger. Shonu becomes so unbelievably hungry that he sneaks into the mangrove forest and breaks the golden rule: he takes honey from the hives even though it is not yet harvest time. Shonu doesn’t quite realize that what he has done could get him into deep trouble with the almighty demon tiger …

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