I love reading new books, especially children’s classics that I somehow missed. When the review for The Bears on Hemlock Mountain e-Guide from Progeny Press came up, I was intrigued because they said this book is for young elementary, and yet despite all my years working with kids, I hadn’t heard of this book. This sweet story was a Newberry Honor Book more than 60 years ago.
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain is a short beginner’s chapter book from 1952. It’s the story of a boy who has to cross a mountain to borrow a kettle for his mother. His family has assured him that there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. Instead of a quick trip, he falls asleep at his aunt’s house, thus making the return trip after dark. Does he run into bears on his way home? Yes, and his method of escape is actually quit creative.
What is Progeny Press?
According to their website, Progeny Press offers “Study guides for literature from a Christian perspective.” They offer dozens of study guides to go with classical literature, for grades 1-12. On their website, “study guide” refers to a physical cd that you can purchase and have shipped, “e-guide” is the identical study that is available for download. Some of their titles include:
- Frog and Toad Together
- Charlotte’s Web
- Little House on the Prairie
- Sarah, Plain and Tall
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Indian in the Cupboard
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe
- and many, many more exciting favorites!
What is The Bears on Hemlock Mountain e-guide like?
The first few pages are activities that go along with the book: discussing animal tracks, creating a visual aid to help understand hospitality, and making forest themed garland. The study guide itself divides the ten chapters into four lessons.
Each lesson contains multiple sections: vocabulary, comprehension questions, word picture questions (a discussion on similes), and a “dig deeper” section.
While the book itself doesn’t mention God, the study guide does. At one point, students are asked about hospitality then given a few Bible verses about hospitality. Students are asked how the main character’s mother displayed hospitality and how that compares to the Bible’s directives on hospitality. (She serves as an excellent example of this, by the way, but it’s great to see students come to that conclusion themselves.)
After the study, there’s a section of “After-you-read Activities.” The author of this study lists ideas of writing projects and hands-on projects to help students step into the story and solidify what they learned. She also includes a list of similar books for further reading and an answer key for the study questions.
Honestly, this was too hard for my entering-first grader. BUT, I love the quality of this study guide. The questions are truly thought provoking and encourage students to analyze the text from a Christian mindset. That’s my biggest prayer as a mother and homeschooling mom: that my kids would learn to see the world through the lens of Christ. These study guides are a fantastic aid for encouraging that through language arts. Even though this was too hard right now, I’m definitely planning to revisit this in a year or so when my son is more comfortable writing. And in the meantime, that Frog and Toad study guide has really caught my attention.