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The Great Hibernation

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  319 ratings  ·  87 reviews
The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founder's fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy's first time to taste the liver. It doesn't go well. A few hours later, all the adults fa
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
"And the only people left awake are . . . kids?"

For some youngsters, that may seem like a dream come true - wear whatever you want, no bedtimes, sugary cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - but the utopia soon becomes a nightmare when the mayor's son institutes a sort of martial law, with an ever-expanding police force made up of tiny thugs. While the kids struggle to assume their parents' jobs, Jean Huddy and her brother smell something fishy, and they're determined to solve the mystery .
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great story with a sci-fi twist. An almost isolated town has an unusual back story. The first settlers were marooned on the island. The starving sailors were confronted by a woozy bear. The captain killed it and shared the liver with all his men. After eating it they all went to sleep and slept the winter away. This saved them from starving so each year they have a celebration. After a the children put on a reenactment play each resident over 12 must eat a bit of raw bear liver.
Our heroine vom
Jenny Goebel
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The setting for this book is a fjord. A FJORD!!! And Tara's world building for said fjord is amazing, let alone the humor she infuses into every scene. All the adults on the fjord (yes, I'm going to keep repeating fjord because it's fun to say) fall asleep and the kids run amok. I read an early copy, and it's officially my favorite fjord book ever. ...more
Belles Middle Grade Library
Apr 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This was such a unique & atmospheric read! The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over 12 must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founders fell asleep for months. This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well. A few hours later, all the adults fall into a sleep from which they cannot be woken, & the kids are left to run things. At first, they ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman was the bedtime book I read to my young son, Bingo, a few weeks ago. Here’s the setup—all the parents in the secluded town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord have mysteriously gone to sleep and it is up to their children to take over their jobs and keep everything running (as well as drill down as to why they are comatose to begin with. Pure comedic gold, am I right? I can see little children garbage men dropping cans, running around crazy as refuse and assorted p ...more
Tamara York
Jan 13, 2022 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. All of the adults in St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord have fallen asleep and can’t be woken up. The kids are in charge of the town. What kid wouldn’t love that story set up? There is also a government takeover that would lead to come good conversations with kids. It shares some themes with Lord of the Flies, but in a lighter middle grade, winter setting. This book exceeded expectations.
Andrea Wang
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This book combines folklore, food, and science in a fun, fast-paced, middle grade mystery. The characters are well-developed and believable, and I especially appreciated the character of Isara, a Thai boy who recently immigrated to the town. The plot is intricate enough to keep young readers guessing, and there were a few twists that took me by surprise.
Lisa Dobra
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
St. Polonius is a small town steeped in tradition, one of which is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. All citizens over the age of twelve must take a bite of liver to ward off the next Great Hibernation, which hindered the town's founders for months. Except this year, the liver puts everyone to sleep - everyone except Jean Huddy and all the children under twelve. Now they have to take over their parents' jobs to keep the town running, which is all fun and games until the mayor's son ta ...more
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Live (ugh!) is a rite of passage for those over the age of 12, in the village of St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord, and all adults.
The villagers are all required to attend the "festival" and partake of the liver (ugh!), generally NOTHING of any consequence occurs after the partaking of the liver (ugh!), BUT this is not a usual year or event!

When those under 12 start noticing their parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings all falling asleep, they begin to suspect that
Allison Parker
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, mystery
Long ago, the first settlers of Jean's town would have starved to death in the bitter northern cold, if not for eating the sacred bear liver that miraculously put each person to sleep in a deep hibernation for the entire winter. Silly town legend? Maybe, but that doesn't stop every person of age to ceremoniously eat their bite of bear liver each year in honor of that tale. Just turned 12, Jean is finally old enough to eat her bit, but she's so disgusted by the organ meat that she secretly spits ...more
Ms. Yingling
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Public library copy

Jean Huddy is finally old enough to eat the sacred bear liver that keeps the adult citizens of St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord from falling into a deep sleep. When it makes her sick, her mother refuses to report her, feeling that the tradition, while important, is really rather silly. Of course, the adults in the town DO fall asleep, and the children must band together to keep the town going while they try to solve the mystery and find an antidote for their parents.
Strengths: While
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, arcs, middle-years
This was an interesting story with some strangely dark moments -- there's actual kid-on-kid violence, which caught me off-guard, and diabolical, Malfoy-like scheming. It's still mostly light-hearted (which made the violence even more off-putting) though, and is pretty clever overall. I saw the underlying motive/culprit from the get-go, but there were several tricks along the way that I didn't expect and was pleasantly surprised by. ...more
Jennie K.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-hold, 2017
The 13-and-over residents of St. Polonius drop into a deep sleep after the annual bear liver tasting ceremony -- all but 13-year-old Jean Huddy, who quite literally couldn't stomach her first portion. Is it true that, by her failing, she brought about the mass hibernation? Or is something more sinister afoot? Jean, her friends, and a sheep named Rambo are determined to find out.

Fresh, snowbound middle-grade mystery full of fjord, heart, and a touch of Lord of the Flies-esque danger.

Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tara Dairman's books are always ridiculously fun. The Great Hibernation may be my favorite yet -- mystery and science and a smart, earnest heroine. Delightfully original! ...more
In 1674, Captain Polonius and his crew close to starvation came to what is now known as St. Polonius on the Fjord. Suddenly they came upon a bear and after having killed and consumed its liver they went into a state of hibernation, waking again in the Spring having survived the Winter. This event has come to be known as Founders Day, or a day to revere the saints by participating in the annual tradition of taking a bite of a bear liver. Everyone who is at least twelve years, four months and six ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I mostly enjoyed this because it was soooo different than all of the other middle grade books I’ve been reading. Quirky, fun, and put a smile on my face the whole time!
Mar 16, 2020 added it
Shelves: middle-grade
A fun, lighthearted book with a bit of unexpected violence and a rather predictable plot. Still great though! 😀
Kim Tomsic
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Author Tara Dairman (All Four Stars series) has another great book coming out this fall.
In The Great Hibernation, (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Kids, September 12, 2017) all the parents and teens in the town of St. Polonius fall fast asleep in a mysterious state of hibernation, and science-minded Jean Huddy can’t help but wonder if there’s a strange illness…or worse, a curse—a curse that Jean has brought upon the town.

With parents and teens out for the count, Magnus, the son of the Mayor, proc
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I was hooked into this story quickly. I wanted to cheer for the girl trying to be sneaky and outsmart the rulers. However, everything she tired just went south. Funny Story, quick read, mystery to solve. Sweet young students 4th & 7th will love this story.
Coming of age rituals vary the world over, and in this interesting novel, Jean Huddy dreads her first time in participating in her community's tradition. In St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord, a small, isolated village, she is expected to join the other adults and teens over 12 as they eat a slice of bear liver in honor of the village's history. But Jean is unable to swallow the foul stuff. To her surprise, her parents keep her failure to do so a secret. It's a good thing too since anyone who ate the liv ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Originally posted at For What It's Worth on 10/16/17

I adore Dairman’s mid-grade All Four Stars trilogy about a pint sized chef becoming an undercover food critic so I was excited to dive in her latest mid-grade, stand alone novel.

Combining folklore, tradition, science, and of course…food, Dairman has crafted an exciting mystery after all the adults fall into a coma like sleep after the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver festival.

The children
Cheryl struggles to catch up
Cute, but I think a story could have been built without the bully, who unfortunately became both the focus and a pointer to wicked adults, who were also unnecessary. A focus on the kids and their survival and their intramural interactions would have been much more interesting in my opinion.
Laurie Thompson
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's so much to love about this unique middle-grade book with its intriguing plot line, its unusual setting, and most of all its smart, sassy heroine. I also enjoyed the realistic and complex relationships between the kids, including the "enemies" with the main characters and with each other, the existing and newly developing friendships, and the lovely sibling relationship. The science is nicely woven into the history, mythology, and mystery elements as well. Thoroughly charming and highly r ...more
Laura Resau
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! It's such perfect, cozy wintertime reading... I drank hot chocolate and curled up with this book. The story is wonderfully quirky, unique, and witty. It's got an amazing, atmospheric, wintry setting, and such fun world-building. The mystery was intriguing, with great twists and turns. Loved the diverse characters and really enjoyed the humorous elements. And like all Tara Dairman's books, there's a lot of heart and warm friendship. Highly recommended! ...more
Jessica Lawson
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another story full of humor and heart from Tara Dairman! I love Tara's Gladys Gatsby books, and was lucky enough to read an early version of this book. Can't wait to get the hardcover when it comes out this September! ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Dairman, Tara The Great Hibernation, 260 pages. Wendy Lamb (Random), 2017. $17. Content: G.

Legend has it that every citizen of St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord over the age of 12 must take a bite of bear liver at the annual ritual or all of them will fall asleep as part of the Great Hibernation. Jean has just turned 12 and she really wants to, she really tries to, but she secretly spits it out. Then all of the adults start falling asleep! And the mayor’s bossy son, has declared that according to the to
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A study in power and politics, when the adults of the town are out of commission the children are put in charge. According to their town charter, each child needs to take on the role that their parents usually serve. Our protagonist, Jean, is much like her mother who understands politics and is not afraid to speak up. Jean figures out that what has occurred to the adults has been a plot to serve the interests of a new business(unsafe for people's health) that is pushing into their town. Jean use ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-2019-msba
When all the adults (and kids over the age of 12 years, four months, and six days) lapse into comas during the St. Polonius-on-the Fjord Founder’s Day celebration, it is up to Jean and her friends to solve the mystery of the great hibernation. Although a serious problem that is eerily similar to the town’s founding story, the book is very clever and funny. The children of St. Polonius are all required to step in for their parents to run the town, the local restaurant, the hair salon, and drive t ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
The thing about this book that really sets it apart for me is the worldbuilding. You can really feel the cold, and the way that the environment influences the lives of the people of St. Polonius on the Fijord. The entire plot boils down to the environment and how it affects the people of the town in major ways. I also loved the way the kids would exclaim stuff too, in such St. Polonius ways. lol It's such good worldbuilding.

The main character was very easy to identify with and I loved Isara dear
Julianne DeSilva
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Great Hibernation was such a fun read! I was completely absorbed in the story of St.-Polonius-on-the-Fjord! When the adults of the small Northern community take part in their years long tradition of eating sacred bear liver, they fall asleep, and Jean is worried it's all her fault. By not eating the sacred bear liver, she feels responsible for finding out how to wake the town's elders, and keep the craziness of the town's kids taking over their parents jobs at bay! I think this is a great bo ...more
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Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novels ALL FOUR STARS, THE STARS OF SUMMER, STARS SO SWEET, and THE GREAT HIBERNATION (coming in 2017), all published by Penguin Random House. She is also a playwright and a recovering round-the-world honeymooner (2 years, 74 countries!).

Tara holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of th

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