The Big Honey Hunt is a children's book by Stan and Jan Berenstain, the first in the long-running Berenstain Bears series. It was first published in 1962, by Beginner Books, an imprint of Random House co-founded and managed by Dr. Seuss. The book introduces a family of anthropomorphicbears comprising Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Small Bear (later renamed Brother Bear).
At the beginning of the book, around the Berenstain Bears' table, Mama Bear discovers that they are out of honey and tells Papa Bear to go get some more. He agrees and takes their son, Small Bear, along with him. However, he ignores Mama Bear's advice to go to the store to buy the honey and tries to collect wild honey instead. To that end, he and Small Bear follow around a bee as it flies from tree to tree. At each tree, Papa Bear declares that he is sure there is honey inside of it, but instead variously encounters an owl, a porcupine, and a family of skunks. When they do finally find a tree full of honey, it is protected by a swarm of bees. The bees chase them down to the river, where the bears jump in to avoid them. After the bees leave and the bears exit the water, Papa Bear gives up and decides to buy the honey from the store, as Mama Bear suggested before.
Stan and Jan Berenstain, a husband and wife team from Pennsylvania, were already successful illustrators and cartoonists by the time The Big Honey Hunt was published, with their work appearing in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping throughout the 1940s and 1950s. By the early 1960s, partly influenced by their son Leo's love for Dr. Seuss books, the Berenstains decided to create books for young children. For their first book, they decided to use bears as the main characters because they were widely popular and were easy to draw. According to their other son Mike Berenstain, Stan and Jan based their family of bear characters partly on themselves and their two sons. For the relationship between the father and son in particular, they used the 1931 film The Champ as a reference.
They decided to publish their first book with Random House, under the banner of Dr. Seuss' Beginner Books label. They took their first effort, Freddy Bear's Spanking, about a small bear who tries to avoid a spanking from his parents by suggesting a list of other punishments, to their first meeting with Seuss. Seuss praised the basic premise of the book but criticized many aspects of its execution. He became their first editor, and they spent the next two years revising their book to suit Seuss' rigorous standards. Freddy Bear's Spanking slowly became The Big Honey Hunt, and in the process, the Berenstains began to develop a formula for writing and illustrating children's books. According to their 2002 memoir, Down a Sunny Dirt Road, this included "easy words, short sentences, word/picture clues, rollicking rhythm, resolute rhyme... shameless slapstick and outrageous jokes."
- Dutch: De honing jacht
- This is the first book of the Berenstain Bears series.
- This is the only Berenstain Bears Beginner Book, where the Stan and Jan's names in the author/illustrator caption are extended: "By Stanley and Janice Berenstain".