In Black Bear Country

Written by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger

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“…my palms felt sweaty, my legs felt jittery, and my stomach felt queasy. I was nervous. This wasn’t a typical fall hike. We were going to ‘black bear country,’ a forest grove where black bear feed.” Once third grade readers hear this opening to Shaunda Kennedy Wenger’s book, In Black Bear Country, they will be eager for more.

As Wenger narrates this slim non-fiction book, she frequently shares her perspective. It’s easy to imagine feeling as scared and nervous as she does! Wenger also speaks with wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett, whose broad knowledge and competence guide the book along. Blodgett’s brings first-hand experience to the book, and some of the information he shares is fascinating. When Wenger and Blodgett come across some claw marks on trees they pass, for example, Blodgett explains that by considering how large and deep the claw marks are, he is able to roughly determine the size of the bear, when and why it might have been there.

Children at this reading level will also enjoy Blodgett’s description of a “bear nest,” a place high in a tree where a bear has sat and had a snack. Beechnuts are a particular favorite, apparently. Bears enjoy their snack by perching on a strong branch and ripping off other, nearby tree branches and stripping off the nuts. The stripped branches get stuck in the tree and form a sort of nest around them. Who knew?

The brief author’s note near the back of the book includes some history of Parker’s Gore, where the tour in the book takes place. There is also a glossary and websites for.

Third grade students and teachers alike will find this personal account of a trip into Black Bear Country informative and interesting, and may even make them want to go to Vermont to take a look around themselves! This book is a must have for the third grade reading list.

Websites (these are listed in the book):
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Vermont Land Trust:
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department:

  • Title: In Black Bear Country
  • Author: Shaunda Kennedy Wenger
  • Publisher: Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.
  • Reviewer: Lisa Kahn Schnell
  • Paperback: 12 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-57274-827-9
  • Genre: Nonfiction, nature, science

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