The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh


G--appropriate for all

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Jonathan has been told all his life that there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. But when his mother sends him over the mountain to borrow a big iron pot, he discovers otherwise! His quick thinking--and that pot--save him.


There has been a lot of criticism for this book's winning the 1953 Newbery Honor award, and I get that. It certainly doesn't feel like the same caliber as Charlotte's Web (which also won an Honor award that year). However, this is a nice book for what it is...an introductory chapter book. The plentiful illustrations make the "chapters" feel less intimidating, but the text is just barely above easy-reader, which makes it a nice stepping stone to independent reading. And because Jonathan's encounter with a bear is not too scary and all ends well, it is a perfect choice for young readers. The story, although simple, gives a nice overview of life as a settler in rural Pennsylvania. The fact that it is based on a local tall tale adds colloquial charm.


I give this book a parental rating of G and recommend it for kids ages 5-9 who are graduating to independent reading. You can get your own copy here. (My son and I also listened to the audiobook. If you prefer that version, you can get that here.)


Themes:

  • courage

  • life as a settler

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