One of our favorite books is Blueberries for Sal, a classic story written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey in 1948. The story’s setting is Blueberry Hill. Little Sal and her mother have arrived there to pick blueberries that they will can for the winter. Equipped with tin pails, mother and daughter begin picking. But Little Sal has a hard time filling her pail because she’s too busy eating all the berries she puts in. The excitement of the story builds when Little Sal and her mother and a bear cub and it’s mother get mixed up on Blueberry Hill. But all’s well that ends well when the children are reunited with their rightful parents.
Blueberries for Sal is a perfect little read for the New England summer we have been enjoying. It was particularly perfect this month because we got to do some blueberry picking when we visited my dad’s farm in Massachusetts.
We read Blueberries for Sal a few days before our visit, and it was fresh in the girls’ minds as they picked. My dad taught them how to spot the perfectly ripe berries. We tasted both the sweet ready ones and the tart ones which needed a few days more on the bush. Willow wondered why her plastic bucket didn’t make the sound, “Kuplink! Kuplank! Kuplunk!” like in the story.
And we laughed because, like Little Sal, our own little one ate every single blueberry she picked.
Though we didn’t can the blueberries for the coming winter, we did have plenty more than we could use for our cereal. We decided that we would bake a pie.
I have to preface this part of the post by admitting as a truly terrible baker nearly everything I bake ends up inedible. So by no means is this a recipe suggestion (though here’s a link to one), but rather a fun way to connect a reading experience to real life!
After we made the pie filling together (combining blueberries, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in the Dutch oven over low heat), the girls went upstairs for story time.
We reread Blueberries for Sal, and compared her kitchen to ours. We talked about the way Little Sal and her mom were canning the blueberries and the way we made our pie filling. And while we read and talked, I inadvertently left the (ready made….I could never make a pie crust from scratch!) pie shells too close to the preheating oven, where they melted completely. I had to get pretty creative with those piecrusts! Luckily the results were passable and the girls enjoyed the pie they had made after it cooled overnight.
How do you connect the stories you love with special experiences?