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The Children's Bookshelf: The Impossible Mountain - February 14, 2022

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The Impossible Mountain written and illustrated by David Soman is a charming tale of two children, Anna and her little brother Finn, as they test their ability to meet life beyond their small village. One day Anna, determined to meet the world, looks out over the village wall and sees a magnificent mountain ready to be explored.

Anna packs bread, cheese, several pans and blankets and her sibling does the same. Their community warns against venturing out from this safe place. However, Anna bravely leaves for a look at the unknown with Finn following along.

Then their adventure starts. They pass through a great forest, run into a pack of wolves, go around a waterfall, cross a river by stepping from one large stone to another and learn how to walk the steep ledge of the mountain from a mountain goat.

The higher they go the more swirling snow they experience. Anna and Finn take refuge in a cave. After making a fire and having a cup of tea they see the Great and Terrible Bear also sheltering in the cave! This illustration is breathtaking. The shape of the huge bear, the contemplative look in its eyes and Anna’s small hand reaching out to the bear with an apple is touching. After a goodnight’s sleep Anna and Finn say goodbye to the bear and continue their goal of reaching the very top of the mountain. The final page in this beautiful picture book puts forth this culminating thought, “The world was full of mountains, all of them waiting to be climbed.”

The Impossible Mountain is written and illustrated by David Soman for readers 4-8 years of age. It is an ode to understanding when it is time to explore and what it takes to never give up. (Little, Brown and Company, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.    

Activity Questions for The Impossible Mountain

Study the items Anna and Finn take along with them on their journey to the mountain. Find the following things: a loaf of bread, a book, matches, cheese, a knife, a stuffed animal, cups, blankets rolled up and a horn. What else do you think they have in their knapsacks? If you were to go on a journey with a family member, where would you go and what would you take with you? Think about what food, clothes, favorite toys, books, journals, clocks, maps and snacks you would take. Then make a list.

A red cardinal follows Anna and Finn on their journey. Can you find pictures of the cardinal once the townspeople say goodbye and the children start their journey? Sometimes the cardinal is easy to spot and other times it is hard. Begin your hunt for the cardinal with the illustration of the children walking through the forest. There are over 20 sightings of the cardinal throughout this book.

The Great and Terrible Bear, the Mountain Goat and the cardinal each play an important part in this story. How does the bear help the children? How does the mountain goat help the children? How does the cardinal help the children?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.