FeaturedMiddle Grade Fantasy

The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot


Loved it! 😍

An old-fashioned, relentlessly charming middle-grade rags-to-riches animal tale


As a young chipmunk, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the 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 sets off on a legendary journey beyond his wildest dreams. From exploring cuisines with a famous chef, training with ancient warrior monks, flying on giant hawks, finding true love, and much more, Rockford recounts his epic origin story of hardship, perseverance, and fortune.

As a child, I grew up with all of the standard "animal books" - from Watership Down to Stuart Little, Black Beauty to Redwall, all the way to the Adventures of Paddington Bear. For whatever reason, it feels like the middle grade animal fantasy has long since fallen out of fashion - however, Josh Gottsegen's The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot is gloriously nostalgic, old-fashioned in style while fresh and exciting in content and quality. Rockford T. Honeypot is a chipmunk living in an a modern animal society, complete with computers, cameras, and the social media site Whisker - and during a chance encounter at the market, he begins telling his life story, in the company of his great-grandchild Theo. Over the course of the story, first the other animals at the market start listening, then news cameras show up, and soon he's telling his rags-to-riches story to millions on livestream.

Despite the modern-day humour colouring the framing device, Rockford's story is classically and hilariously mid-century. He invents roasted filberts, meets the love of his life, saves his family, and all of this while being more than a little bit germophobic! The story has its darker moments, for sure; the consequences of storms are much more severe for small woodland creatures than for humans, and Rockford has his own struggles with self-confidence. But for the most part, The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot is a romp.

The one fly in the ointment is a bit of a strange detour in the early part of the book, which trades on Asian stereotypes more than I would like. It's particularly notable given how default-British/North American everything else is, and it would be nice if every appearance of wise Shaolin monks didn't involve kung fu wisdom. However, despite an iffy trope to begin with, the book is surprisingly genuine even in this section.

I highly recommend The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot for advanced middle-grade readers and for parents to read with their kids - especially children with a fascination with animal stories as it is. And don't worry; it's got a better ending than Stuart Little.

Reviewed by

I enjoy reading new books and fiction, and have a fresh, unique perspective as a Canadian queer disabled person.


As a young chipmunk, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the 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 sets off on a legendary journey beyond his wildest dreams. From exploring cuisines with a famous chef, training with ancient warrior monks, flying on giant hawks, finding true love, and much more, Rockford recounts his epic origin story of hardship, perseverance, and fortune.


Deep in the forest, nestled between the trees, a dome-shaped warehouse of wood and glass seems to sprout from the soil. Inside, a multi-colored kaleidoscope of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and nuts grows from end to end. Just outside, a menagerie of forest creatures, from lizards and chipmunks to monkeys and birds, mingle and shop at the trendy outdoor marketplace. 

Perched high up on a branch, an elderly parrot startled by a howler monkey in transit, lets out an embarrassingly high-pitched squawk. A red feather drops from his wing and drifts toward the tables of carefully arranged fruit, where two hedgehogs sample pineapple on sale. 

A gust of wind blows the feather toward the premiere check-out line, marked by a golden silk rope entwined with gold leaves and a dazzling golden carpet. A few well-to-do squirrels, apes, rabbits, and ring-tailed lemurs chat amongst themselves, complimenting one another on their designer jewels, eccentric hats, and lavish leaf-lined coats. The feather grazes the nose of a well-dressed gibbon. His super-sized sneeze throws him back into the mud, ruining his silk jacket and propelling the feather toward the regular checkout line. 

The wait is abnormally long today, made even longer by a combination of the annual Purple Thursday Mega Sale and a missing orangutan salesclerk who called in sick. It doesn’t take long for the waiting animals to lose patience, whip out their phones, and begin to complain on Whisker, Tropland’s most popular social network. 

The red feather glides toward an elegant, grey-haired chipmunk waiting in the growing line. As she catches the falling feather, her oversized red coat knocks over a basket of cherries from a table.

“Let me get those for you,” a calm, chivalrous voice speaks from behind her.

She turns to see a handsome, well-dressed chipmunk picking up the spilled cherries. His ocean-blue eyes catch her attention. 

“Thank you.” She squints as she takes in his gracious smile. Something about him seems a little familiar. “Have we met before?”

“Oh, I suppose I have one of those cheeks,” he replies, adjusting his plum-colored blazer. 

Everything about this chipmunk exudes sophistication and class: from his snazzy suit, blue vest, and red bowtie, to his youthful light-brown fur and the distinguished gray stripe running from his forehead to his nose. Well, almost everything. On his nose sits a pair of circular eye-glasses with a purple vine holding the damaged left frame together.

A young chipmunk by his side snatches the final cherry, tossing it back on the table. 

“Thank you. Is this your grandson?” the female chipmunk asks kindly. 

“GREAT-grandson,” the small boy pipes up as he plays with his green yo-yo.

“Of course, forgive me,” she replies, taking a few seconds to break her gaze. 

“Rockford T. Honeypot,” he says, extending his paw. “This is my great-grandson, Theo.”

“Heyooo!” belts out the boy, climbing up to his great-grandfather’s shoulder, leaping off with a triple backflip.

“THE Rockford T. Honeypot?” she gasps, shaking his paw. “Shouldn’t you be in the premiere checkout line? I’ve heard so many stories about you.” 

“Oh, dear. I’m just an ordinary chipmunk from Kona Valley.” Rockford lets out a nervous chuckle and smooths his hair down awkwardly. He looks away, struggling to find something to comment on. “Say, I just love the scent of fresh jasmine flowers in full summer bloom, don’t you?” 

“Ordinary? There’s nothing ordinary about you, from what I’ve heard,” she persists, her eyes sparkling.

“And what did you hear? I’m as ordinary as lemon pie.”

“Can we go now?” complains Theo, hopping onto the cherry table. “How much longer do we have to wait? I’m hungry! Do they have lemon pie?” 

Rockford grabs him by the scruff of his neck and places him on the ground. 

“Be patient, Theo. Paws on the sod, now. We talked about this.”

“Can’t you just say the ground? Cheeps, you’re old-school, Great-granddad!” 

“Age is a privilege, my pint-sized Honeypot,” Rockford says, wiping off dirt from Theo’s navy-blue shirt. “Oh, where are my manners? What is your name?”

“Who, me? Well, my name is Rosalina,” she replies.

“A pleasure to meet you,” smiles Rockford, wiping more moss from Theo’s shoulder. “Theo, you look just like Chester, your grandfather, when he was your age. You know, this line hasn’t moved, and we may be here for a short while. How about story time?” 

“Story time? I’m not a pup. I’m eleven years old, if you knew anything about me,” sasses Theo, rolling his big eyes. 

“Is that really Rockford T. Honeypot?” whispers a woodpecker a few animals back.

“As in Honeypot, Inc.? He disappeared years ago,” murmurs a squirrel to a young monkey with long, golden hair and a tail twice as long as he is tall.

“He’s famous? Lemme get a closer look!” gushes the monkey as he bounces over numerous animals to get closer to Rockford. 

“Not just famous; he’s arguably the most successful and wealthiest animal in all of Tropland! I heard he even dated Cleopatra, the red fox heir to the Egyptian forest,” says a weasel to the chipmunk waiting in line next to him.

“My cousin’s friend’s aunt’s manicurist told us she used to see him at Hollygrove parties with the hottest Golden Age celebs!” mutters the chipmunk to a capybara, a beaver-like rodent five times his size.

“For reals?!” says the capybara. He tosses a few smaller chipmunks onto his back so they can have a better view. “I’m game for story time. Let’s hear it!”

The animals shift out of their single-file line in order to form an audience closer to Rockford. 

       “I must admit, it’s been a few moons since I’ve been back here,” says Rockford, wiping debris off a broken tree stump with his handkerchief. “Theo, don’t eat those nuts until we pay for them.”

Theo spits four peanuts back into his basket. “Great-granddad. Nobody cares.” 

“Quit being a weasel! We wanna hear the story!” shouts a voice from somewhere back in the crowd.

“I resent that!” protests a weasel. “But I totally want to hear the story too.”

The animals chatter amongst themselves, eagerly waiting to hear what the famous chipmunk has to say.

“You don’t know much about me, do you?” Rockford whispers to Theo.

“Um… nope. We’ve only talked, like, three times,” the boy grumbles back.

“I’ve been gone for a while and take full responsibility for my actions. However, considering what day it is, and why we’re here, how about we make the best of it? Will you do that for me?”

“Fine. Tell your story.” Theo sits near Rockford, fiddling with his yo-yo.

Rockford smiles slyly and stoops to give Theo a rock from the forest floor. “Think you can hit that purple sign on the green-hut wall?” 

“The one that says thirty-nine? Obviously,” booms Theo, who snatches the rock and, with all his might, tosses it directly at the center of the sign. 

“Dunk! Nice one,” Rockford approves, wiping his paws. 

“You’re so weird. It’s your fault if I get in trouble!” snickers Theo.

“Did you know I built the very first Green-Hut Market with your great-grandmother? Our company, Honeypot, Inc., owns all the Green-Hut Markets in Tropland, including market forty-two for the bigger animals across the river.”

“Really?” interrupts Rosalina.

“Really?” echoes Theo, cracking another peanut shell. 

“There are a few things about my life that may surprise you, some of which I’ve never told anyone before.”

“Yes! Origin story!” shouts the capybara. “All the best superheroes have origin stories.”

“What else?” asks Theo.

“I learned to cook using fire with Tropland’s finest chef. Flew across the great forest from coast to coast on wild hawks. Travelled to a hidden garden, where I learned ancient secrets from a species of chipmunk thought to have been extinct. Oh, and revolutionized Tropland’s food and transport systems.”

“Meh. Wanna see a new trick?” says Theo, throwing his yo-yo down and snapping it back with his other paw. The string gets caught on a branch and nearly breaks. “Dang! It’s the lightning bolt. One of the hardest tricks.” 

“Lightning bolts can be tricky.” Rockford adjusts his glasses. “I’ve seen many in just about every type of storm. From floods to fires, I’ve lost as much as I’ve loved. There’s a good lesson to be learned about this yoo-yoo trick.”

“Alright, tell the story, Great-granddad!” Theo exclaims, fixing his string. “And it’s a yo-yo, not a yoo-yoo.”

About the author

Josh Gottsegen is an optimist, dreamer, creator, and passionate healthy living advocate. As the author of the children’s book series Joosh’s Juice Bar, which promotes healthy eating habits, Josh enjoys spending time with family and exploring new adventures with his beloved dog, Olive. view profile

Published on June 23, 2020

Published by OneLight Publishing

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Reviewed by

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