With summer approaching, it’s heading into my favorite season – BERRY SEASON! Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, oh my! Our supermarkets are already flooding with ripe strawberries from Florida, but I just can’t wait to be outside in the sun, picking my own! I grew up with a very tempting strawberry patch in my family’s garden and was often caught red handed (and red faced!) covered in strawberry juices after eating my fill. Nothing beats a sunwarm freshly picked berry, in my opinion.
If you love berries as much as I do, you might enjoy this round-up of favorite berry picture books.
Jamberry by Bruce Degen (HarperCollins, 1983)
This may be one of my very favorite books to recommend for reading out loud. A boy and a bear go on search for all sorts of berries, giving way to wild adventures and brightly colored illustrations. The playful text has a wonderful rhythm and rhyme scheme with a healthy dose of nonsense words. “Quickberry! Quackberry! Pick me a blackberry!”
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR by Don & Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood (Child’s Play, 1984)
This storytime favorite is a masterpiece of suspense and ideal for that 2-4 age range. The text directly addresses the illustrations, so that the child audience is encouraged to interact with the mouse in the book. The little mouse is about to pick a GIANT ripe strawberry. But hasn’t the mouse heard about the big hungry BEAR who loves strawberries? The funny illustrations and the delightful pacing with continue to build the tension and suspense about this hungry bear with each page turn, with a delightful and rewarding conclusion.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Viking, 1948)
Adventurous Little Sal and Little Bear each go out blueberry picking with their mothers, but when they get distracted, they end up following the wrong mother. This Caldecott honor book’s classic blueberry-blue ink illustrations and sweet story make this a book an essential for any child’s library.
Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow (Floris Books, 1982)
Another blueberry-lover’s favorite, this miniature book was first published in Swedish in 1901. Peter goes out to pick berries for his mother’s birthday, but can’t seem to find any. The tiny king of Blueberry Land arrives to transport Peter to a wonderful land where he makes friends, plays games, and returns home with baskets full of berries for his mother.
The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang (1980)
In this wordless Caldecott Honor book, an old lady buys some strawberries at the market but is followed home by a thief intent on stealing those berries! This book’s illustrations masterfully utilize the blank space of the page as the old, grey lady makes her escape by slipping in and out of the grey background, challenging the way we typically approach looking at an illustration’s foreground and background. Children love the turn-the-page suspense of the chase as well attempting to search out where the lady is hidden on each page.
Raspberries! by Jay O’Callahan, illustrated by Will Moses (Philomel Books, 2009)
When the once-famous baker, Simon, is given raspberries seeds as a gift, he finds that raspberries breathe new and exciting life into his bakery’s treats, causing a sensation among the townspeople. This fun read-aloud will have children singing “Rassssspberrrrrieeeees!” right along with the text. Click here to read last year’s Top of the Shelf review of this book.
Those are some of my favorite berry books. What are some of yours?