The principal character of the stories is Honeybear herself, an orphaned bear living alone in a forest after her mother mysteriously disappeared when she was a cub. She is admittedly a rather lazy bear, happy to doze a great deal in between eating lovely snacks she finds. But one day, her largely uneventful but lonely life is interrupted by a stranger in the forest – a young gorilla who has escaped from a zoo.
Taking a liking to this new arrival, Honeybear invites the gorilla to stay while he considers his future. Finding he has no name, she calls him Gerumph, which greatly pleases him. They soon become fast friends and Gerumph becomes a permanent resident in the forest.
Unlike Honeybear, the gorilla is full of energy and constantly seeking new experiences, some of which will, of course, get him into trouble from which Honeybear will need to rescue him. Gerumph also encourages his new-found friend not to be so lazy and explore the wonders of the forest with him. She should not be afraid to have adventures that will be great fun and exciting, he tells her, even though Honeybear isn’t sure she really wants to have adventures at all.
After meeting many of the forest’s other inhabitants and indeed having several adventures, Honeybear makes a startling discovery – that she might be able to find her long-lost mother. Of course, her best friend Gerumph is always by her side, to help and encourage Honeybear when she needs it.
Their new quest takes them on a host of great adventures, including a threat to their home in the forest; a wild tree-climbing competition between pine martens; dealing with some campers who throw rubbish all over the forest; helping a stranded dolphin; and even refereeing a hilarious sporting event between two teams of alligators.
All the while, the search for Honeybear’s mother gathers pace, as Honeybear becomes more adventurous and empowered, even to the point of taking unlikely risks. Their journey leads the friends out of the forest into new, and perhaps dangerous territory, full of surprises, challenges and strange encounters, leading to a dramatic climax full of twists and turns in which the outcome remains in doubt almost to the final page.