Yes, this book has been around FOREVER, but please bear with me. I chose to review it because, 1. a great experience inspired me, and, 2. I may be able to introduce the book to readers (youngsters!) who aren’t familiar with it. Plus, 3. I’d like to ask your opinions on a gift related to the book. Read on:
Who can resist Robert McCloskey’s Caldecott Honor classic tale of Sal and her mother, picking blueberries to can for the winter?! Originally written in 1948, the story features a mother and daughter said to be modelled after the author’s wife and daughter. Other McCloskey books in our library include Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine and Lentil. He also illustrated the Homer Price series for middle readers.
In Blueberries for Sal, Sal drops her blueberries into her tin pail – “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk!”, she pulls them out and eats them, then begins collecting again – “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk!” High on Blueberry Hill, deep in Maine, Sal and her mother head in opposite directions around a large bush.
Sal and her mother are not alone; a mother bear and her cub are also visiting Blueberry Hill, to prepare for winter by filling up with berries. They too head in opposite directions around the bush.
Mother spots the cub, the mother bear spots Sal, and there are happy surprises. The encounter isn’t frightening to the characters, simply startling. The children are reunited with their own mothers, and the afternoon winds down.
We were inspired to re-read this favorite after a blueberry-picking excursion today. (For those of you in New England, this week and next are peak season; we visited Blueberry Bay Farm, about an hour north of Boston). We used plastic pails, so instead of “ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk”, I just heard my 3-year-old “little man” saying “mmm, mmm, mmm” (a yummy sound!) as he sampled the berries.
We have a new neighbor, and I thought a gift of homemade blueberry cobbler and a copy of Blueberries for Sal would be an appropriate way to welcome the family to the neighborhood. I like to give books for new baby gifts, and they’re perfect for the “big brother” or “big sister” in the family as well. I tend to not give books to my adult friends and family (unless I know a specific title that interests them), because I find it much more risky than buying for kids. Who do you give books to? For a special occasions, or “just because”?