Blueberries for Sal is a classic in children's literature, and rightfully so. First published just after the end of World War II, this Caldecott Prize winning book subtly expresses the desire of the post-war generation to find ways to live in peaceful coexistence.
Unlike the over-produced children's books of today, Blueberries for Sal is written and illustrated along simple lines. Illustrations are monochromatic pen and ink, yet evoke powerful reactions in the reader. Likewise, the language of the text is simple, yet communicates a message that remains difficult for many to understand.
Sal and her mother climb a hill to pick blueberries just as a bear cub and his mother do the same. Much to the fear of the parents, the two pairs get mixed up. The kids don't seem to mind much, however. After all, the bear cub and Sal just want to eat blueberries.
Of course, the real message of the story is peaceful coexistence. At the time that Blueberries for Sal was written, segregation was still the law of the land in many parts of the country, and different racial groups lived in fear of each other. Author Robert McCloskey delivers a concealed jab at such separation in a form that can be educational to children and parents alike.
The plot also serves as a useful illustration of the potential for humankind and nature to live in harmony. So long as we balance the needs of humans and nature, there should be enough blueberries for all.
Blueberries for Sal is a great choice for any child's library. Parents and children alike will enjoy repeated readings, as there is enough substance in this book for it to be enjoyed in different ways by children of many ages.