Blueberries for Sal

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Blueberries for Sal is a story that focuses on the bond between a mother and child.  The book is reviewed by Melissa G. at Sweet on Books.

What You Need to Know:
• This is a touching story that highlights the bonds that exist between mother and child.
• Blueberries For Sal was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1949.
• The story is still relevant, but it does reflect the era in which it was written.
• Two of the characters, Sal and her mother, are supposedly based on the author’s wife and daughter.
• There are a few pages of suspense when Little Sal and Little Bear briefly get lost.
• The setting is a small town in Maine, where picking blueberries is a popular pastime.

Sweet Book Summary:
Little Sal and her mother begin their day hand-in-hand, but as they each focus on their own intentions, they find themselves taking different paths. While her mother is collecting blueberries to preserve for the winter, Sal is more intent on immediate gratification. As her mother’s bucket fills, so does Sal’s stomach. At the same time, on the other side of Blueberry Hill, a baby bear and his mother are also preparing for the winter. Following these two parallel stories, readers can see the powerful connection that exists between all mothers and their children.

The initial flow of the story reflects the easy-going pace at which both mothers wander through the bushes. The excitement begins to build, however, as Little Sal and Little Bear lose sight of their own mothers and innocently follow each other’s instead. The unexpected images of a little girl following a large bear and a little bear following a human, emphasize the magnitude of this mix up. The children, happy to have another “parental figure” to trust for the moment, don’t seem to notice the problem, but wait until you see the shock on the faces of the mothers when they realize what has happened!

The two-color illustrations are as serene as the rolling hills they depict. They engage the reader, raising their interest, building their anticipation, and then bringing them gently back down to rest. The drawings are beautifully detailed and perfectly reflect the emotions of each character.

I picked up this book on a recent trip to Maine and am so glad that I did! While the world has changed drastically since it was written more than 60 years ago, the beauty of the Maine landscape and the role that blueberries play in Maine’s culture, remain the same. I even spotted a woman picking berries by the side of the road. This book is definitely one to keep on your bookshelf and enjoy on any occasion – but if possible, combine it with a summertime trip to Maine!

Author: Robert McCloskey Illustrator: Robert McCloskey Published: 1948, 64 pages
Themes: Animals, Classics, Exquisite Illustrations, and Family Life

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