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Dear Mr. Blueberry


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PreS-Gr 1-- It is summer, and Emily discovers that a whale is living in the pond in her yard. Eager to learn more about this amazing animal, she writes a series of letters to her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, asking for information about whales and their habits. The humor of the situation lies in Mr. Blueberry's replies. He sends Emily some details, but he is also quite adamant that whatever is in her pond is not a whale since they live in salt water. Nevertheless, both Emily and readers know that indeed there is a whale in the pond, and the proof is the amusing, full-page watercolor cartoons. Emily shares her letters with the whale, who, after hearing about his species' migratory habits, leaves the pond to return to the ocean. (How he does this is not explained.) At first, Emily is saddened at her loss, but a chance meeting with Arthur on the beach gives her the opportunity to say goodbye. This story is a nice blend of fantasy and reality with a smattering of facts. The large print and simple vocabulary make it appropriate for beginning readers. --Laura Culberg, Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago

Told in epistolary form, this heartwarming tale concerns an ecologically aware girl who thinks she sees a whale in her swimming pond. She writes to her teacher for advice, but Mr. Blueberry--apparently a stolid sort--informs her that whales live not ``in ponds, but in salt water.'' Emily persists in her nurturing, however, to the betterment of her newfound friend--``He looked blue. Does this mean he might be a blue whale?''--and the delight of readers. Though everything looks blue for Emily when Arthur disappears from the pond, nature--and Emily--triumph in an ending that may bring a small, non-whale-sized lump to many throats. James's ( Sally and the Limpet ) latest book is a tribute to a child's love, imagination and pure caring. His ingenuous art displays many homey details (baby brother upends a cereal box as Emily reads Mr. Blueberry's latest missive), and the text beautifully contrasts the candor and directness of the child with the slightly pedantic, narrow viewpoint of the teacher. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)

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