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The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh

G--appropriate for all

This review contains an affiliate link.

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 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.)


  • courage

  • life as a settler

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