A Taste of Blackberries, by Doris Buchanan Smith

A Taste of Blackberries. By Doris Buchanan Smith.  Illustrated by Charles Robinson.  Scholastic, 1973.  74 pages.

Plot: Jamie is a great best friend, sometimes a little exasperating, but a great best friend nonetheless.  He’s always up for an adventure, often stirs up trouble, and isn’t scared of anything.  Jamie is a trickster and a joker, and he makes his best friend smile.  A lot.  So, it didn’t seem odd that Jamie was one minute poking a stick at a bee hole in the ground and the next minute he was on the ground writhing.  His friend thinks it is another joke, another attention getting device, until, the ambulance comes, and then he has a lot to think about.  Jamie dies, and his best friend doesn’t know what to do without him.  How will he get through the day, when he knows Jamie is gone?

Review: Sensitive and gentle, this books gives readers a window into how a young boy deals with the death of his best friend.  There are so many feelings that come up for the main character, and Smith takes time to address a lot of them.  This book is most appropriate for the younger end of tweens, but would also be appropriate for older tweens dealing with similar issues.  This first person portrayal of a boy mourning and missing his friend, is moving and touching, and would make a great book for a tween book group or discussion group.

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8-11

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

ISBN: 978-0590337847

Similar Books: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Subjects:  death, friendship, grief

Selected Awards: ALA Notable Children’s Book

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