Written and Illustrated by Jamison Odone
Front Street, 2007
I get along well with honey badgers.
Did You Know? About one quarter of the honey badger’s diet is comprised of snakes.
Maurice and June, a pair of honey badgers, find the story’s narrator in a basket when he’s a baby and they raise him. They eat snakes, but he only eats flowers. He grows up in their den, drinking water from the river. They make kites from ferns and fly them together. He knows people think it’s strange that he lives with honey badgers, but he has a friend who lives with beetles, which seems stranger to him.
This was the debut picture book from author/illustrator Jamison Odone and it’s unquestionably odd, but also surprisingly compelling and lovely. There’s no real plot to the story, as it’s just a collection of thoughts that the narrator has about his honey badger parents and their lives together. But you can’t help but be drawn in by their unusual situation and the way he seems to enjoy it.
The fact that one of the honey badgers is named Maurice seems like a nod to Maurice Sendak, whom Jamison Odone knew personally, and the illustrations seem to have a Sendak-ish quality to them. (This makes me wonder if the fact that the other honey badger is named June is a reference to anyone particular.) I’ve seen this book described as heavily influenced by both Sendak and Edward Gorey, which should create a perfect mental picture of how unusual it is. I think young kids might find this book a little baffling, but I imagine they would still find the pictures and the relationship between the narrator and his adoptive parents endearing.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that no matter how strange your family may seem to others, they’re your family and if it works for you, that’s all that matters.