Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Pic Source : Amazon

This is a very simple and cute story of a little girl Sal, who goes up the hills with her mother to collect blueberries. The mother carries her large tin pail with her to put the berries in, because she wants to can them for the winter. Little Sal also carries her small tin pail. As the mother collects the berries, so does Sal. Some she puts in her tin pail and some she gobbles up !! Here is a very catchy phrase used. "Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail...kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk !". The words used to describe that sound of blueberries hitting the tin pail amused me as well as my son. We smiled every time we said those words aloud from the book :-).

As Mother sees that her pail is also getting emptied by Sal, she asks her to go by herself and eat some berries. Sal finds a nice clump of bushes having lot of blueberries and settles herself comfortably.

Meanwhile on the other side of the hill, a mama bear and a baby bear are also on a similar blueberry hunting expedition ! The mama bear tells the little one to eat lot of berries to stock up for the winter.

As the little bear and little Sal, wander away from their mothers they happen to land behind the other one's mother ! Mama bear thinks it is her little one trudging behind her, when she hears the"kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" sound :-). Surprised she turns around and when she sees little Sal, she backs away. At this point I would like to point out the beautiful way in which the author has expressed mama bear's reaction on seeing Sal- She took one good look and backed away. She was old enough to be shy of people, even a very small person like Little Sal. The word "shy" got me thinking...I felt that the author has purposefully used this word rather than "scared" or" afraid", to get across significant messages to our children. Likewise when Mother finds that it is the little bear and not Sal behind her, she turns and walks away because she was old enough to be shy of bears, even very small bears like Little bear !!!

As Mama bear and Mother go around the hill looking for their respective wards they find them with that unmistakable hustling sound and the "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" sound :-).

Happily the two pairs go back home, having had their fill of blueberries !

This is a feel good and charming story for little kids. We got this book from our library. One observation that I made while looking at the illustrations was that the pictures of Mother, her kitchen, canning jars made me feel that it depicted the western countries of may be early fifties.(My image of that comes from watching TV !). So to satisfy my curiosity I checked the first publishing is mentioned as 1948 !!!

The illustrations are completely in black and white.It is beautiful. Robert McCloskey has both written and illustrated this book. There are also more books written and/or illustrated by him. Most of them are either Caldecott Award or Caldecott Honor book.


Meera Sriram said...

I just ran into this book the other day and I was - 'ahha, its here' when I saw the review up on ST this morning! Yeah, kids really enjoy repetitive catchy sounds like this one has. And nice work mentioning the 'shy' as opposed to 'scared' choice of words.

sathish said...

what i loved in the book is the simple illustrations in black and white..

Praba Ram said...

I've heard of this title, but haven't yet read. It's such a classic! Nice pick!
K would love it given that blueberries are infact her favorite fruit/snack! :-)

On a different note, I am happy you could find such classics in your local library in Bangalore. It would be nice to donate such children's caldecott/classics from here to libraries in India. I am curious whether it's a public library run by private folks, or is it a govt. run library?
Email me if you have info, R!And also about your SSI work, and how that's been going.. Let's chat! I will be in India in August! Hope we get to talk! :-)

sathish said...

praba, we are members of a private library called easylib ( - you can order books online and they will deliver at home in Bangalore only.

It is nice library - we found a small set of caldecott books in their collection recently. But, most of the others are the usual suspects like noddy et al!!

It is also a good place to lend books for adults. Ranjani and I end up reading quite a few books from them..
since, it is not a public library - we have to pay around 10% of the book cost and keep the book for two weeks.. It is a bit on the costlier side; nevertheless cheaper than the books that i end up buying every month.. :)

Praba Ram said...

that's interesting! Thank you for the info.

More later


ranjani.sathish said...

praba will mail u soon !!

Meera Sriram said...

We recently picked it up for P, and he loves it!
Hard to tell which is more adorable - the story or the illustrations! The text seems a little too lengthy, but I think that's the case with most classics, they are hardly terse. Thanks R for this.

ranjani.sathish said...

Meera, this is still one of my favourite books for children..I am so desperately hunting this book for Shraddha now in my library..We can't find it. The librarian says that there is no book like this in their library, whereaS I am sure that I have seen this there !

Meera Sriram said...

Oh, is it? I bought it at my local used book store. I will check if they have more copies and pick a copy for you if they do!

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