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The Bears On Hemlock Mountain (1992)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (1992)

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3.69 of 5 Votes: 5
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0689716044 (ISBN13: 9780689716041)

About book The Bears On Hemlock Mountain (1992)

I'm trying to figure out why this won a 1953 Newbery Honor. At first I thought that 1952 must have been a very unexceptional year for children's literature. Then I looked at the winners. Charlotte's Web was also an Honor that year (along with three others), losing out to Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark. WHAT THE HECK? Bears on Hemlock Mountain received the same award as Charlotte & Wilbur? Unthinkable. What was this Newbery Committee thinking? How could any other children's book of that year have been better than Charlotte's Web?? It couldn't. The End.So, back to the book: Jonathan lives on Hemlock Mountain. His entire life he has been assured--by a little chant--that there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. One day he is sent over the mountain by his mother to borrow a big iron pot from his aunt. Jonathan bravely makes the trip, muttering to himself the chant about no bears, just for reassurance. Turns out the little chant is wrong. There are bears on Hemlock Mountain. While weeding our library I came across this little chapter book. It was very short, had lots of blocky black and blue illustrations, and the silver Newbery medal on the front. It had not been checked out once in the last five years. Clearly, my kids weren't interested. So I weeded it, but kept it to read myself. There's not much to it. It's based on a Pennsylvania tall tale, and Dalgliesh fleshed it out to make it longer. I enjoyed the illusrations, and the historical aspects are undoubtedly correct, but for me, this is nowhere near a Newbery Honor. On a quirky note, the chant bothered me because I could not discern a steady rhythm:THERE ARE NO BEARS ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN, NO BEARS AT ALL. OF COURSE THERE ARE NO BEARS ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN, NO BEARS, NO BEARS, NO BEARS, NO BEARS AT ALL.Looks simple, yes? Every time I thought I had the rhythm down, though, the wording changed. Kinda drove me just a little nuts.

This book is a retelling of a folk tale in which a boy goes over the mountain (alone!) to borrow a black pot from his aunt. The tension, as one might guess, comes from speculating whether there are "bears on hemlock mountain!" It would be great as a short read-aloud in a family or even to just tell as a story. Young readers will have success with this book. Currently APL owns the version with the cover shown here; it was donated to the library in 2-17-1976, which makes it older than I am and very unusual for a book in the youth department!

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I picked this book up on audio when I was looking for something short. I remembered seeing this on one of my "good books for kids" reading lists and figured it was a Newberry Honor book so it would be a safe bet. What I failed to realize was that the target audience of this book is beginning chapter book readers. So although the story was pleasant enough it didn't really seem fleshed out or in depth enough for 64 pages. The author states it is a small tall tale and I think as such it may have been fine. But it seemed too long to be a tall tale and too short to be a chapter book. I am sure it would have been lovely for my beginning readers a few years ago but outside that category it fell flat.

An amiable story to which any young boy like Jonathon could relate. The imagery was very visual as Jonathon trudged his way up Hemlock "Mountain", his imagination running wild with the possibility of bears hovering around. I liked how both Jonathon and his mother recited the same little chant to themselves, though they were apart, about there not being any bears on Hemlock Mountain. A quick, enjoyable read, though by no means a true literary masterpiece. An interesting selection for a Newbery Honor I think.

Like 'Little Red Riding Hood', Jonathan must make a delivery but his journey takes him through the woods. All the while he chants encouragement to himself "There are NO bears". He stays too long at his destination and finds he must trudge home AFTER DARK. Suppose there ARE bears after all?A very quick read with just the right amount of tension for readers just venturing into chapter books past the "easy reader" stage. The protagonist employs some quick thinking. Still, it is puzzling how this slim and unremarkable book won even "honor" distinction of the coveted Newbery Award. First published in 1952, winning as a Newbery Honor in 1953.

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