HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Honey Bunch: Her First Little Garden
Author: Helen Louise Thorndyke
Illustrator: Walter S. Rogers
Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap, 1924
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7-11
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Thorndyke, Helen Louise. Honey Bunch: Her First Little Garden (published in 1924 by Grosset and Dunlap Publishers, New York City, NY). Young Gertrude Marion Morton, known as “Honey Bunch,” lives with her father David, mother Edith, and cat Lady Clare in Barham, probably somewhere in the northeastern United States. Her best friend is Ida Camp, and the neighbor boy is Norman Clark. Honey Bunch’s Uncle Peter, who is going overseas, sends her a present of garden tools, including a rake, a hoe, and a spade, so her parents agree to allow her to have her own little garden. She decides to ask all her friends and relatives what their favorite flowers are and to plant them in her garden, including pansies for Uncle Peter, red poppies for Ida, and sunflower for Norman. So Daddy Morton helps her prepare the ground and takes her to buy the seed.
An elderly neighbor named Mrs. Lancaster, who was lame and got around in a wheelchair gave Honey Bunch some special, secret seed that had been developed by her late husband to add to her garden. The girl worked hard, and her flowers bloomed. Everyone encouraged her to enter some of them in the town’s Annual Flower Show. Does Honey Bunch win anything? Will Uncle Peter ever get to see her garden? And what is the special seed? The “Honey Bunch” series, part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate of books which included Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins, was written under the pseudonym Helen Louise Thorndyke, beginning in 1923 with Honey Bunch: Just a Little Girl, and chronicled Honey Bunch on various trips and adventures throughout the series. The first sixteen were written by Josephine Lawrence with art by Walter S. Rogers.
Honey Bunch: Her First Little Garden, #5 in the series, is a sweet story that was obviously intended for a younger set than Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. There is little objectionable, besides the fact that Norman uses the euphemism “Gee” once, and Honey Bunch and her family attend Sunday school and church. The plot might seem a little tame by today’s standards, but Honey Bunch has been raised to respect her parents and models good behavior. Parents who are interested in charming tales for little girls should find Honey Bunch refreshing. The original series lasted 34 books, with the 34th being published in 1955, although the final two books changed the original title from just “Honey Bunch” to “Honey Bunch and Norman,” in an attempt to appeal to both sexes. In 1957 the series was re-vamped with new titles as the Honey Bunch and Norman series, with twelve additional books. The final book of the series was published in 1963, Honey Bunch and Norman and the Walnut Tree Mystery, although the books remained in print for several years.