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The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot

Children/Young Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

As a young boy, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the never-ending forest. However, timid of danger and germs, his only adventures were found in books and his imagination. When his family abandons him after a mistake that destroys their hazelnut business, Rockford is launched into a journey that takes him to places he couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams. Along the way, Rockford meets a colorful assortment of characters-- from a renowned chef, to a smooth-talking hawk-pilot, to a beautiful heiress with a heart of gold. In a voice all his own, Rockford recounts his epic origin story of perseverance, strength, love, and success.
Debut author Gottsegen introduces young readers to the adventurous and charming chipmunk Rockford T. Honeypot in this gripping coming-of-age adventure. Rockford is wrangling his 10-year-old great-grandson, Theo, as they shop at a farmer’s market frequented by woodland creatures. While they’re stuck in the checkout line, other patrons coax Rockford into telling them about his travels throughout the Tropland rainforest. Rockford relates growing up as a bookish, ostracized child who wound up training with mindful chip-monks, riding on the back of a hawk, and learning from a renowned muskrat chef. As the stories get bolder, Rockford’s audience grows. Soon the local news station is broadcasting him live, drawing in people from his past who connect him to the growth, strength, and tenacity that made him who he is today.

Rockford’s stories, gently enhanced by Kleyn’s tidy, detailed chapter head illustrations, introduce a menagerie of vibrant one-of-a-kind characters who are perfectly suited for older children, with gentle lessons to be learned from every interaction. Some of the elements are a little clichéd: Rockford predictably falls for the first female chipmunk he meets, and the faux-Shaolin chip-monks speak in stilted English (“We know pain of loneliness”), quote haiku, and believe in a mystical prophecy. Each chapter ends with a return to the frame story at the farmer’s market, with humor that can feel a little strained. However, the book’s target readers will breeze past these flaws and find the adventure enthralling.

Parents waiting for their children to be old enough for The Hobbit or Redwall will find this the perfect stopgap, with plenty of thrills as well as moral quandaries, somber loss, and emotional growth. The ending will elicit happy sniffles from readers who have gotten caught up in Rockford’s tale. Without stinting the action, Gottsegen delivers a powerful message about the importance of being brave, honest, and true to oneself.

Takeaway: Older children will absorb important life lessons while enjoying this thrilling story of a brave chipmunk’s forest adventures.

Great for fans of Kathi Appelt’s The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Barbara O’Connor’s On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A+
Illustrations: A
Editing: A+
Marketing copy: A

Dr. Gabby Wild, Veterinarian. National Geographic Kids Educator, Animal Jam

"Heart-touching and soul-warming, The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot provide kids the sweetness of the sought-after adventure with a relatable, adorable protagonist. A wonderful inspirational book to share with the fantasy-loving middle school reader!"

May Cho

"I thought that this was a delightful read and felt it really was a whole anthropomorphic mirror of life. The story touches on everything personal from family expectations and tricky friendships to everything external that affects life, like economic prospects and climate change."