Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk

Blueberries for Sal
by Robert McCloskey
Front cover

Blueberries for Sal won the 1949 Caldecott Honor Medal.

I loved this book when I was a child, even though I used to think that Sal was a boy. I was a girl that only wore dresses, and so a child in denim overalls could only be a boy! I have read this book countless times. I still add it onto the pile of books that I will read for the children in my life. It is a great read-aloud, and one I never tire of. I always encourage the children to join in with me on the "ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunks"!

Robert McCloskey modeled Sal on his own daughter, and the mother on his wife. The setting is a summer day in a small town in Maine, where Sal and her mother head off to pick blueberries to can for the winter. On the opposite side of the hill, a mother bear and her cub also set off to eat and store up blueberries for winter.

McCloskey parrallels and contrasts the bears and humans throughout the story. They head in opposite directions when they reach the patch, and both mothers have similar exchanges with their children upon arriving. When Sal and the cub are mixed up with the wrong mother, both mothers are extremely surprised when they realize the "child" isn't their child.

Of course both are soon reunited with their proper mother and head off the hill back home. Just as they are leaving Sal drops a blueberry into her still empty pail.

The liner pages has this illusration:

I LOVE this picture. I love that Sal is helping her mother can the blueberries, but really playing with the canning seals. My mother used to can each summer. I remember the large mason jars filled with juicy blue berries...a vision in my head every time I read this story.

McCloskey's illustrations are done in a single dark blue color and block printing. The illustrations are reminiscient of a simpler time when canning and ther domestic chores were more commonly done.

When I was a child, Captain Kangaroo would have a story time on his television program. I remember him reading this book (or showing this small movie of the book reading). In the days of all things internet, I was able to find it on YouTube. I prefer the simple dark blue colored illustrations, but it is still a fun clip to watch. Enjoy.

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