Blueberries for Sal tells the story of a mother and her young daughter hunting for blueberries on a hillside. They want the berries for canning and Sal’s mother has given her a bucket to carry as she walks and picks. Of course, not as many berries end up in the bucket as those that end up in Sal’s belly. As they walk, Sal and her mother drift farther apart without either of them realizing it.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the hill, a mother bear and her cub are out for a stroll and a snack. Mother bear wants her cub to eat and grow fat for their long winter sleep. As with Sal and her mother, the cub and mother bear also become separated from each other. Both Sal and the cub wind up following each other’s mother, but finally end up finding the proper parent before the end of the story.
McCloskey, R. (1948). Blueberries for Sal. New York, NY: Viking Press.
This was one of those books I had always meant to read, but just had not gotten around to it. I think at first, I was put off by the all blue illustrations, but considering blue is my favorite color, I should have given it the benefit of the doubt.
This is a very charming story about an outing shared by two sets of mothers and daughters; one set of humans and one of bears. (Well, I think the bear is a girl!) Blueberry picking and eating is the goal for both the girl and the cub as they explore the hill with their mothers. The blue color of the pictures actually helps to focus the reader on the story and of course provides a complement to the sweet fruit found at the center of this tale.
As it became clear that each “child” was losing her way, there was also a bit of humor and sense of expectation as we the readers wait for the moment of discovery. What will happen? Thankfully all is well and each girl finds her way back to her mother. I can see how this story has stood the test of time.
“I was speaking with a fellow librarian the other day about a classic children’s book (which shall remain nameless) that both of us missed in our youth. Our response to it was not overwhelmingly positive, and we figured that had to be because we “missed it”. Now I don’t remember reading Blueberries for Sal as a kid, but I don’t think it’s possible to “miss” the appeal of this one. Brooke and Amy have already pinpointed the two major reasons why: Blueberry picking is the ultimate child sport, and any author/illustrator who can make blue ink continually compelling must be some kind of genius.”
Bird, E. (2009, April 30). Top 100 picture books poll results (#13). [School Library Journal web log]. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2009/04/30/top-100-picture-books-poll-results-13/
Library uses: Li-Berry fun! This book along with other berry themed books could be the entertainment provided for a berries and whip creme breakfast at the li-berry. Oops! I mean library!
Other titles could include:
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang