“Dear Mr. Blueberry, I love whales very much and I think I saw one in my pond today. Please send me some information on whales.” It’s vacation time, so Emily has to write to her teacher to help when she discovers a blue whale living in her pond. Mr. Blueberry answers that she must be mistaken, because whales live in the ocean, not in ponds.
Throughout the summer, Emily and Mr. Blueberry exchange letters, until Emily has a happy surprise to share with her teacher. In the process, Emily learns a lot about whales. And Mr. Blueberry leans even more about imagination, faith, and love.
Dear Mr. Blueberry belongs to the Understanding Text Structure section of the Touchstone Books. The books in Understanding Text Structure all allow students to explore different text structures and to think about the different formats that books can be arranged in. The students will not only look at set-up, but different writing elements such as setting and voice.
Dear Mr. Blueberry is at once both a sad and an uplifting book. The story is set as a series of letters between a student, Emily, and her teacher. Emily has been writing her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, all about the whale in her pond! However, Mr. Blueberry insists that a whale could not possibly be living in her pond. As the letters continue, Emily comes to believe Mr. Blueberry, and her whale leaves. That’s the sad part – that her imagination was stifled. In the end, though, Emily is reunited with her whale at the beach, a place her teacher would most certainly agree would house whales.
The book is a cute story that will allow students to learn about the letter writing format. They will see that a letter starts with a salutation, has an informational body, and a closing. The letters detail the setting of the story, and the characters are discovered through voices of the letters, both Emily and the teacher. Students will understand that stories do not have to be written in the traditional fiction format. Other forms and styles of writing are just as valid an option for telling a story.
Letter Writing Activity
Time: 1 hour
Worksheet – e-mail me if you would like the worksheet.
Bring the students into a group and read the story out loud. Discuss with students the format the story is written in, detailing the parts that make up a letter.
– What does this page resemble?
– Have you ever written a letter before? Received a letter?
On chart paper, write down the elements of a letter: greeting, body and closing. Have the students work together to create a reply letter from Mr. Blueberry to Emily (in regards to her last letter to him, ending the book). Stress that a letter begins with Dear So-and-so, has a body that details the purpose of the letter being written, and ends with a closing like From or Sincerely Your Name.
Once the class letter is complete on the chart paper, tell students that they will be writing a letter to someone in their family, a friend or to you (the teacher), about something interesting they have seen lately. Hand out a worksheet with blank lines in a letter format that students can write their letter on, reminding them about their greeting and ending. Once the letters are complete work with students on creating good copies, which will then be posted on a bulletin board to showcase student work.