Sunday, August 30, 2009

REVIEW: Blueberries for Sal

McCloskey, R.  (1976).  Blueberries for Sal.  New York:  Viking Press.


In this classic, little Sal and her mom go to pick blueberries on the aptly named Blueberry Hill with the intention of canning them.  Sal complicates this plan by eating every blueberry that comes near her.  On the other side of the hill, another mother and child are out looking for berries, a anthropomorphized bear and her cub.  Both cub and child wind up separated from their mothers while eating the berries, they wind up following each other's mother.

This text has the potential to feel strange to students who are raised outside of the context of picking fresh berries and canning.  Despite this, a teacher could help make it relatable by emphasizing the idea of eating a favorite fruit.  This book could also be accused as being dated in terms of its gender roles (no fathers are present as care givers and Sal's mother is shown wearing a skirt despite the fact she is trekking up a hill).

For teachers on the hunt for a longer picturebook read aloud, this book is on the text-heavy side and is longer than the average picturebook by 20 pages.

McCloskey's illustrations are done realistically in black and white and earned the book a Caldecott Honor .


A teacher could use this story to set up a lesson on addition and subtraction, as Sal picks and eats the berries.

A teacher could use this to kick off a lesson on bears, their habitats, foods, behavior patterns, need for hibernation.

And of course, after sharing this book, an adult could take the student berry picking or be taught how to can berries or make jam.

A teacher could also pair Blueberries for Sal with Are You My Mother? and discuss what a child should do if they become lost.

Quotes of Note:

"One day, Little Sal went with her mother to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries."

"She picked three more berries and ate them.  Then she picked more berries and dropped one in the pail-Kurplunk!  And the rest she ate.  Then Little Sal ate all four blueberries out of her pail!"

"On the other side of Blueberry Hill, Little Bear came with his mother to eat blueberries."

"Little Bear and Little Sal's mother and Little Sal and Little Bear's mother were all mixed up with each other among the blueberries on Blueberry Hill."


  1. Awww, Blueberries for Sal! Love.

  2. Besides, half the joy/point of reading books is to read about lives outside our own context! :)



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