Blueberries for Sal
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Blueberries for Sal
Author: Robert McCloskey
Major Themes: Blueberries, Bears
Synopsis: Sal and her mother go picking blueberries, and Little Bear and his mother go eating blueberries, on the same hill.
Blueberries for Sal is one of my all-time favorite picture books! I believe the first time I ever saw it was when a relative who worked at a school library sent us a big package of old books just before the birth of our third baby. I put the books away till the baby came, and then had a lot of “new” books to read to my older two children, who were 3 years and 20 months at the time. Blueberries for Sal was one of the favorites and still is. When we lived in Michigan, we would pick blueberries at blueberry farms every summer, but here in New Zealand, we pick wild blackberries. Either way, there are similarities to the story, except that we’ve never seen a bear!
Sal and her mother go picking blueberries on Blueberry Hill to can for next winter. Mother walks through the patch, picking berries into her big tin pail, and Sal follows along behind, eating berries and occasionally dropping some—plink, plank, plunk—into her little tin pail. On the other side of the hill, Mother Bear walks along, eating blueberries to store up fat for the winter, and Little Bear follows along behind, eating blueberries. Then, the little ones get all mixed up and scare both mothers. What a delightful story!
The pictures are wonderful, too. They are simple pen-and-ink drawings, but very expressive. This is an older book, first published in 1948, but one of those classics that will never grow old. It’s no wonder Blueberries for Sal is a Caldecott Honor Book!