A little girl, one summer, finds a whale in their pond and so she writes a letter to Mr. Blueberry, her teacher, for advice on caring for whales. Hence, began a wonderful exchange between an imaginative child and a fact-based adult.
Dear Mr. Blueberry is a simple story that somehow comments on the difference between children and adults. To the little girl, Emily, arthur (the whale) is real. Are children capable of lies? Most of us will probably agree they are not. However, can a whale live in a pond?
This little book, in its way illustrates the wonder that is the child’s mind—it is uncompromising, truthful and simply wonderful. One can notice the insistence on fact in Mr. Blueberry’s letters (see below)
I must point out to you quite forcibly now that in no way could a whale live in your pond. You may not know that whales are migratory, which means they travel great distances each day.
I am sorry to disappoint you.
But one can also notice the persistent wonder and undiluted faith of the little child.
Dear Mr. Blueberry,
Tonight I’m a little sad. Arthur has gone. I think your letter made sense to him and he has decided to be migratory again.
To Emily, Mr.Blueberry’s facts didn’t matter, what mattered is what she could see, feel and experience. To the adult reader this is a profound insight to the world of children. The facts do not matter, it is what they see, feel and experience that is more salient.
If I were to look further into the dynamics between Mr. Bluberry and Emily’s letters one could see something of a debate between science and faith, by faith I don’t mean the religion-affiliated kind. Mr. Blueberry’s letters were bent in proving that Arthur cannot live in a pond. He threw in information about salt water and migration, while Emily simply insisted on the presence of the whale.
Dear Mr. Blueberry is a simple story, but I feel in it is an exploration of a child’s world and experience so different from that of adults. Was there a whale in the pond?
And the only true response is: does it even matter?
This book was written for children between the ages of 4 to 7, and I believe can be a nice pick up point to discussing writing letters and whales. As I did an internet search on this book, I found this form that teachers can use in relation to this book. Click here.
Simon James, author and illustrator of this wonderful book, has held a variety of jobs, ranging from policeman to farm worker. He is now an artist-in-residence in a local school where he teaches children “how to have fun making a mess and expressing something at the same time.” Like Emily, Simon James seem to share the same eye of wonder as he picks up worms from pavements and transfer them to grass and enjoy the music of birds. To learn more about the author, check his website here.
Simon James Official Website: http://www.simonjamesbooks.co.uk/sj/main.htm