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Amber on the Mountain (Picture Puffin Books) Paperback – May 1, 1998

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An illiterate child in a mountain community learns to read and write. "Johnston knits this story together with recurring themes, lyrical images and picturesque and convincing dialogue," said PW in a starred review. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-A story about learning to read and write that doesn't quite work. Amber lives a solitary life high in the mountains. Then one day a man comes with a crew to build a road, bringing along his wife and daughter, Anna. She teaches Amber to read before the road is completed; Amber learns to write on her own so she can keep in touch after Anna's family leaves. The process of mastering these skills, while shown to be a slow one, seems to be one in which, as Anna says, you just, "Set your whole self to the task." Johnston, who has used poetic language to great effect in previous books, seems to be straining to be descriptive here. One brief page of text, for example, is crammed with figurative language, some of which is cliched. She uses expressions that seem to evoke an Appalachian setting, a place where "folks" might "roll clean off" of a road; where people say "hey" to one another. Duncan's large, lush oil paintings unfortunately confuse the issues of time and place. While the frontispiece painting and the details of housing have an Appalachian look, the mountains have the sharp ridges of the Rockies. (The cover painting of the girls on a grassy hillside in front of imposing peaks even evokes strong images of Heidi.) While the setting includes no modern touches, the two children's wardrobes seem to be directly out of the current L.L. Bean catalog. Eve Bunting's The Wednesday Surprise (Clarion, 1989) and Florence Heide's The Day of Ahmed's Secret (Lothrop, 1990) do a better job of telling the literacy story.
Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 0480 (What's this?)
  • Series: Picture Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014056408X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140564082
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a really special book. It is all about learning to read and write and why someone might want to do so. The pictures are among the best I've seen in any children's book. The story is well told. It's also a lovely story about friendship and giving. For a kindergartener or first grader learning to read and write it is particularly appropriate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sue Metzcar on December 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a teacher I use this book to teach that children can make a positive difference and can accomplish much if they keep on trying. The illustrations are beautiful, but so are the words that describe them. So someone can read a page aloud, and then the listeners can explain what they visualize or draw what they visualize. The author uses excellent word choice and figurative language; the story can be used as an example for the writing trait "Word Choice" or for examples of figurative language and understanding of that idea.
There are many good pieces written with realistic male heroic characters. The characters in this book are two determined girls and Amber's grandma. All three characters are strongly developed by the author. Amber lives with her grandma, and that is the only "family" mentioned. The setting is the back hills, probably in the late 20th century. If you are looking for any of those features in a book: strong and able women, nontraditional family, or set in a remote rural area, then this is a great book. I was given this book as a way to teach the importance of transportation and road building to provide advantages to those who live in under developed areas of the U.S.
I am a public school teacher teaching third grade. I'd rate the book appropriate for grades 2-5, depending on your purposes. I would also recommend this for a book to read at home with a parent, grandparent, or other important adult because it is enjoyable and can emphasize positive character traits such as persistance, being a friend, and working together as a family. The illustrations are just gorgeous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Enhanced with subtle rich oil paintings, "Amber on the Mountain" is the story of a girl who wants to learn. Amber is a mountain girl who has no one to teach her.

And then, Anna arrives - a girl her own age whose father is going to build a new road. Although Anna has to leave the mountain before she can teach Amber everything she wishes, Amber perseveres in her quest to learn.

This charming story teaches the value of education, friendship, and the importance of working for what you want.
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By Mabila on December 19, 2008
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written picture book -- one of my very favorites ever. The language is so very rich, and the girls' personality and emotions come through so clearly in just a few lines.

For younger children, it gives a glimpse of what independence and hard work can do. For older children, there's the whole world of rural Appalachia in the not-too-distant past -- a place that was so cut off from the technological advances of the rest of the world.

I love the turns of phrase that are so evocative of the lyrical way of speaking that you can still hear from some of the older people from this area... Holding a book "like a fine and breakable cup", being "drenched" with a child's words that "come down like spring rain"...
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Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to this book as an elementary school librarian and now I'm buying it for my grandchildren. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is a delightful one of childhood friendship, but my favorite thing is the descriptive language, which is probably most appreciated by children 8 - 10, although it is certainly a great read-aloud and vocabulary builder for younger children.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not only beautifully written with fantastic examples of beautiful language, but it also has an important message you want to share with children. They can do anything they put their mind to. This is a must read for all elementary school aged children. I shared it every year with my fourth grade students. Wonderful picture book!
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Format: Paperback
I read this beautifully written picture book to my fourth graders at the beginning of each year that I taught. It models using beautiful language with an important message that you can do anything you set your mind to.
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