By STACY MILLS
My grandson and I spent some time in the Jefferson Carnegie Library a couple of weeks ago when he came for a visit. As we were perusing the stacks, I pulled out a classic, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. As I had planned to take my grandson blueberry picking during his visit, I immediately placed this book among the others we picked to check out for nightly bedtime reading. The night before our trip to Daingerfield and Greer Farm to take this first-time adventure for my grandson, we laid on his bed to get settled into reading together. I thought it would help set the stage for our outing together the next morning to read a book about Little Sal, her mother, and their adventures blueberry picking. However, I think what was most meaningful to him was when I told him this had been one of his mother’s favorite books I would read to her as a child. He got a huge smile on his face and was ready to listen. If you are not familiar with Robert McCloskey and some of his other books such as my personal favorite, Make Way for Ducklings, then check one out sometime from our extensive children’s library. There will always be a time when reading a book from the past written by an author such as McCloskey, whose books have received literary awards, proves to be the “just right” read of the day.
Kuplink kuplank, kuplunk! Little Sal begins to pick blueberries with her mother and never seems to escape the sound of berries hitting the bottom of a pail since she eats them as fast as she picks them. Her mother’s pail doesn’t have the familiar kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk since her mother is picking berries to can for next winter. Little Sal gets slightly scolded by her mother for eating all the berries and tells her to run along and pick her own. Sal just can’t help herself from picking the deliciously ripe berries and gobbling them up as she sits among the blueberry bushes.
Another mother and her child are also out on Blueberry Hill picking berries at the same time as Little Sal and her mother. Only this mother is a bear and she is out with her baby cub! You can probably predict that Sal and her mother will encounter Mother Bear and Little Bear but who would have thought that the children would get mixed up with a different mother. Neither mother realizes that a different child is following them as they are both so engrossed in their berry picking. Only until Mother Bear hears the sound “kuplunk!”does she turn around and see Sal following her. And only until Sal’s mother turns around to see Little Bear does she realize that she must look for Little Sal.
McCloskey takes what could be a quite scary moment and turns it into a charming story about two mothers, their children, and the adventure of picking berries on Blueberry Hill. This is a book that adults and children alike will enjoy sharing. Since my grandson has gone home and my home is once again quiet, I have my memory of his time with me, our adventure blueberry picking, and reading to him just like I read to his mom. It just doesn’t get any better.
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