Cover image for If you should hear a honey guide
If you should hear a honey guide
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, c1995.
Physical Description:
unpaged : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
570 L Lexile
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 598.72 SAY 1 1

On Order



The honey guide bird leads readers on a gentle journey through the wild bush lands of western Africa. After passing by badgers, elephants, zebras, and snakes, readers arrive at the bird's destination: a honey rich bee's nest. The persistence of bird and reader are justly rewarded-with honey and the joy of discovery, respectively.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-The interesting thing about a honey guide is that it calls to a honey badger or a person and leads the way to a bees' nest, hoping to get a piece of the honeycomb. In this quiet, simply phrased nature lesson, Sayre leads young readers on the quirky bird's trail through the Kenyan bush lands; past elephants, zebra, coiled snake, lion and crocodiles; to a hollow bee tree. Schindler's realistic closeups of these natural scenes, done in watercolor pastels and gouache in shades of brown and soft green on a beige background, will certainly attract the attention of youngsters whose fascination with animals seems insatiable. The Honey Hunters (Candlewick, 1992), a folktale retold by Francesca Martin, also features this unusual bird. It tells how some animals, led by the little guide, refuse to share the honeycomb and become natural enemies as a result. The two titles complement one another; each is excellent in its own right, and both deserve a place on library shelves.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

This picture-book survey of East African animals invites readers to follow the bird known as the honey guide through a warm green and brown landscape to a beehive and its honey cache. A concluding note explains the threatened state of this unusual bird. From HORN BOOK 1995, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

With outstanding care and restraint, Sayre (Grasslands, 1994, not reviewed, etc.) introduces this unusual bird and tells the story of symbiosis in a spare, poetic text that is also exciting for reading aloud. Readers are told to follow the honey guide, a small brown bird from Kenya, and it will lead them to a tree of wild bees and their honey. The bird cannot always get into a honey supply without help, so uses a distinctive cry to attract the attention of the honey badger or a human. After leading them to the tree or other source, it waits for the badger to scatter honeycomb while it eats, or for the human to leave some honeycomb in an accessible spot. Readers meet several other animals of East Africa including elephants, cobras, zebras, lions, and crocodiles. Schindler's realistic renderings in soft brown, beige, and green complement the text. Double-page spreads show the vast openness of the wild bush country, and paintings of mottled and moss-covered tree trunks are rich in detail. An attractive, surprising, and useful volume. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. "If you should hear a honey guide," follow the bird. You may spot a honey badger, a herd of elephants, and other denizens of Kenya's savanna in East Africa. If you're wondering why you've been instructed to carry a smoking stick (or for that matter, where the bird gets its name), you'll be pleased to discover that your ultimate destination is a bees' nest. The simple, immediate text is leavened with bits of humor ("make your path wide^--very wide^--around the snake . . . make your path very, VERY wide around the lion" ). The realistically detailed mixed-media paintings are executed in earth tones that suggest the almost colorless terrain of the region. The double-page spreads also make good use of proportion, with dramatic close-up views of the honeycomb. The author's note discusses how honey guides secure their sweet treasure. --Julie Corsaro