Based on McCloskey’s wife, Margaret, and daughter, Sarah, Blueberries for Sal joins two of my other favorite Maine novels – E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs. Who doesn’t love a Maine summer, and who doesn’t revel in the lush taste of ripe blueberries? As the School Library Journal review said, the book is full of “all the color and flavor of the sea and pine-covered Maine countryside.”
What heaven to be on Blueberry Hill, where Sal and her mother find themselves picking berries to can for the winter. (Well, Sal picks the blueberries and eats them now . . . planning for winter isn’t foremost on this little girl’s mind!)
Also on Blueberry Hill are Little Bear and his mother, eating as many blueberries as they can, also preparing for winter. And in the mix-up that results as the two little ones get separated from their mothers, they encounter a crow family and a partridge family also eating their fill of blueberries. Seems everyone’s gorging on the luscious Maine berries, each family preparing for winter in its own way.
The natural world is inviting to these humans – a place where Sal and her mother at home, where they find nourishment, Sal blissfully eating berries in a clump of bushes. But it is also a place that demands respect: Sal’s mother has a healthy fear of bears, even small ones like Little Bear. McCloskey’s narrative is brisk, friendly, funny, and easy to follow – preschool children will enjoy hearing the story of Sal and Little Bear. Blue-black line drawings (blueberry stained?) bring thestory to life, making it easy for young readers to imagine the summer world of Maine.
Mothers and their children working together to prepare for the long, cold winter ahead, taking sustenance from the bounty of the earth . . . a perfect story to share with young ones! Read Blueberries for Sal to your favorite preschooler – and see if you don't find yourself drooling for blueberries and for a summer on the coast of Maine.
Tell us your thoughts about Blueberries for Sal!