A very crude draft of a children’s book imagined in my mind.
Inspired by true events, obviously.
(Because when do I write about fake ones?)
PS: The little stars means it’s time to turn the page. Please imagine it properly.
Also, the pictures in this book are phenomenal. I know the lady who would paint them for me; she just doesn’t know I’ve assigned her the job yet.
(Hi Auntie Renee! Are you reading this? 😉 )
Please also imagine a beautiful picture of blueberries up close, here.
Once, there was a little girl with a pair of thin, blond pigtails. The little girl didn’t know she loved stories but she did know she liked to read. She grew up in a house with many books. As she grew bigger and older, the bookcases grew bigger and the books grew older, too.
Every night her mum or dad would read to the girl and her brothers. They heard many stories about all kinds of adventures and soon learned to read the stories for themselves.
One day the girl grew big enough and old enough to go to school. She would be in Grade 1, her mum said. The girl knew about school; her brother went there. Her teacher would be Ms. Hause, and she had taught the girl’s brother too. It was important to listen to the teacher, knew the girl.
“Can you read, Sarah?” The teacher asked. The little girl nodded, for that was her name. She read the attendance list out loud, navigating the names and faces out in a slow, systematic way. The only name she read wrong was Job – rhyming it with “Rob” instead of “Robe”.
She blushed as red as his hair when his brows clenched in and he angrily corrected her. The teacher was very forgiving. Job seemed less so.
After attendance, the girl settled into her desk. She was going to learn. She was happy the attention was back at the front. Ms. Hause gave instructions to work on a project, and the other students pulled large papers out of their desks full of letters and doted tracing lines. The children started the project yesterday, but the girl was only starting school today. Her family spent the summer Up North and Sarah was starting school late.
She put up her hand. She knew that’s what one did if they had a question or needed help. She didn’t have to ask. The teacher said she had a different job for Sarah.
“Would you like to read to Lacey, Sarah?” Lacey was a girl even smaller than Sarah, and she was all finished her project. “You can sit in the hall, it’s quiet there,” said the teacher in a kind voice.
Ms. Hause handed Sarah a book. It was blue and yellow with a silver seal on the front cover. The girl smiled. She knew this book.
It was Blueberries for Sal.
Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk, she read out loud to Lacey.
Sarah had read Blueberries for Sal. She had read it at her farm. She had read it way Up North. Sometimes her parents read the story to her, and sometimes she read the story herself. It was easy for Sarah to read to Lacey at school.
Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk! She read out clearly as Sal dropped three little berries in the pail.
Up North there were mossberries. They were very small, and black, and grew nestled in deep moss. That’s why Sarah called them mossberries. The girl loved the moss. It was soft, dense, and detailed. The sparse berries made for tasty treasure hunting .
Sarah understood the story of Sal and her mother picking blueberries because she did the same thing with the mossberries from the North, keeping a keen eye on the shadows in case they turned into bears.
Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk, the mossberries would go in Sarah’s blue tin cup. Yum! They were always so tasty!
“Sarah! You are an excellent reader!” Ms. Hause interrupted at the end of the book. Sarah and Lacey looked up. They had not seen the teacher and the principal listening to the story too. They looked pleased. Sarah wondered if they liked blueberries too.
She never found out if the grown ups liked blueberries. She did learn they liked her reading. They liked her reading so much they moved her to another classroom! “You will like this classroom” they told her. “You will get to read more here.” Sarah looked around the room. This class was for grade twos AND threes! She would miss her first teacher but she knew she would like to read here.
Sarah went to school all that winter, and for many years after. Her family stopped going North and grew busy doing other things in other places. Sarah grew older and bigger, and learned to read chapter books and write stories too.
She never picked blueberries like Sal, but she did find huckleberries growing in the eskers of a different house during summertime. Sarah liked to make huckleberry pies with her collected berries. The pies were were nice, but the plump dusty berries were still not the same as the little dark mossberries she remembered.
As Sarah grew bigger, her book collection grew bigger too. It was made of thrift-store paperbacks in stockings at Christmas, comic books from friends and many, many trips to the library. Her copy of Blueberries for Sal grew older and older, becoming more and more worn and the creases turned to tears. But Sarah still loved her book Blueberries for Sal, and her mum still read out loud, every single night.
Sometimes when they were shopping, they would see a copy Blueberries for Sal in a book store window or hiding in a treasure box of book at a garage sale. Whenever they passed a copy of the book the girl would point to it and catch her mum’s eye. It’s Blueberries for Sal, she would say. It was a special book to both of them.
Slowly, Sarah grew up. She returned to the North and saw the mossberries once more, but only once. She had many other adventures to keep busy with. Sarah was so busy with adventures she forgot about books. She forgot to read. She knew she liked stories but paper-filled books just didn’t seem to interest her anymore. It had been a long time since she had read books just for fun.
Sometimes, however, she would still read stories. She didn’t like books that were heavy to travel with, so she would read stories in other ways instead. Short stories. And real ones. Sarah liked the real stories best.
One summer, Sarah went far away to cook in a place she had never been. It was in the North, too, but far away from home, and far far away from the mossberries. They had blueberries here, people said. She had yet to see any, but was waiting for the day she would find the little shrubs on the island where she lived. Sarah watched for them shrubs as she walked along the boardwalk paths each day to work, but she did not find any wild blueberries.
(Illustration of working at the lodge by the window; making pie?)
One day at work, the girl had a quick break. She was in a hurry but a story of pictures caught her eye. She still stopped for stories, you see.
A far away friend held a reading camp. The photos looked like fun. Her friend’s name was Sally, and she lived in New York. Sally read a story about magic pebbles to a group of children. Then they searched for magic pebbles. There was a lake in the picture, just the lake outside Sarah’s window.
Sarah smiled. The treasure hunt was something her mum would do. She would bring children to search for magic pebbles. It was something Sarah would do too.
After the pictures of pebble-searching, there was a photo filled with beautiful shades of blue and green. “We go to a blueberry patch.” the words below it said.
If I went to a blueberry patch for reading camp, thought Sarah. I would read “Blueberries for Sal”. A moment later, she froze, and looked at the picture closely. For under the very next frame were three familiar words:
“Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk.”
(Page filled mostly with picture)
Sarah was surprised. It had been a long time since she had seen a copy of Blueberries for Sal. She had never heard of someone else who liked that book as much as she did. She thought of her copy on her bookshelf at home. She thought about the picture-story and her friend Sally as she went back to work.
Her hands stirred some batter for the lemon loaf and sifted icing sugar for icing. She thought about blueberries in New York and Up North and growing up, and about the man who wrote the book in the first place. His story sure has travelled, she thought.
She took the lemon loaves out of the oven and drizzled glaze on top. Then she set them on the cutting board and stepped back to look at the dessert. How should she make the yellow cake look pretty today?
Two slices on each plate, with a sprinkle of icing sugar? Maybe add a slice of lemon? That would be too much lemon! Mint, with a dab of whipped cream? She made a face to herself. She was tired of mint.
Sarah wasn’t satisfied. She was tired of the green leaf. Was there another colour she could add? Raspberries were too tangy… Sarah sighed. If only dessert was as simple as kerplink kerplank kerplunk.
Wait a minute…
Sarah had an idea! What might she find in the freezer today?
Page with just a picture to help tell the story, possibly several pictures showing Sarah’s walk to the outdoor freezer, rummaging around, and facial expressions of thought and discovery.
A drizzle of blueberry sauce draped over a rosette of whipping cream, right on the corner of two slices of lemon loaf with a dusting of icing sugar on top. The dessert plate was complete!
*LAST PAGE *
Insert sketch or watercolour of grown-up(ish) Sarah with a stack of books at her side, sitting by the lake reading a good book, with a slice of lemon loaf in hand and maybe just a smidge of blueberries on her face.
Today was a good day for blueberries, indeed.