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Doris Buchanan Smith s A Taste of Blackberries starts with an idyllic childhood moment two young friends rambling through a blackberry patch, checking to see if the fruit is ripe The lazy summer day continues with races and some mischievous apple thieving, and Jaime, the unnamed narrator s friend, always vying for attention Jaime is fun, but he s also melodramatic and a bit of a show off, and his antics are sometimes too much for the narrator to take.Everything changes when Jaime stirs up a bees nest that afternoon Many of the neighborhood children get stung, including Jaime, who makes a big show of thrashing around on the ground and yelling Or at least, everyone thinks it s a big show, until they find out that Jaime was allergic to bee stings And the one or two stings he received were actually enough to kill him.Conveying the senselessness of a child s death to young readers is difficult enough, but what makes A Taste of Blackberries even tragic is the guilt that the narrator feels for ignoring his friend s cries of pain Smith handles both aspects of this troubling situation with grace and empathy, allowing the narrator to explore a whole range of emotions and mourn in his own way he feels like he can t eat until after Jaime s funeral.Equally important, Smith illustrates that caring adults are present everywhere in the narrator s life Not only his parents, but his neighbors, and even Jaime s mother are there for him as he navigates this difficult time, ready to listen or even just sit quietly with him as he begins to heal This is an important point for children to take away from such a story that the adults in their lives are ready and able to be there for them during difficult and painful times. A gentle story of a boy and his larger than life best friend I liked the way this story honestly dealt with grief, loss, and the questions we all have when dealing with the death of someone we love I appreciate how this book never felt heavy handed, or moralizing The questions the boy had were treated with respect, and even though the adults couldn t give him concrete answers they gave the love, support, and space he needed so he could deal with his loss, and learn how to move on without his best friend. #DOWNLOAD ô A Taste of Blackberries ó What Do You Do Withoutyour Best Friend Jamie Isn T Afraid Of Anything Always Ready To Get Into Trouble, Then Right Back Out Of It, He S A Fun And Exasperating Best FriendBut When Something Terrible Happens To Jamie, His Best Friend Has To Face The Tragedy Alone Without Jamie, There Are So Many Impossible Questions To Answer How Can Your Best Friend Be Gone Forever How Can Some Things, Like Playing Games In The Sun Or The Taste Of The Blackberries That Jamie Loved, Go On Without Him O ne of the hardest things we have to learn is that some questions do not have answers Mrs Mullins, A Taste of Blackberries, PP 61 62 The list of books for younger readers dealing with issues of losing a loved one is long and illustrious, and includes many great American classics Bridge to Terabithia by two time Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson is one of the best known, an exercise so profound in its understanding of human emotion as to set it apart from all else that came before or could ever follow it There s also The Lottery Rose by Irene Hunt, Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola, Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles, Nobody s Faultby Patricia Hermes, On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer, Charlotte s Web by E.B White in all probability the greatest of them all and a host of others too numerous to mention individually A Taste of Blackberries is one of the shortest juvenile books on the subject of death I ve ever read, just eighty five pages of relatively large font, and it goes by so quickly you might miss the magnitude of its meaning if you aren t careful to take it slow and absorb every moment of understated brilliance it has to offer Pound for pound, A Taste of Blackberries is within shouting distance of the greatest books I ve ever read, painted in strokes of plain, simple beauty, the incredible shining light of shared human experience hidden behind actions routine and unspectacular A spoken sentence here or there reveals the depths of a lifetime of adoration and the mourning still to come over the loss of one so special it rips our hearts out just as it does to the mother who must give her luminously endowed son back to the soil, knowing nothing in the universe can replace a one and only son In remarkably spare, unadorned writing, Doris Buchanan Smith delivers a stunner of a novel that gets to the point and does it quickly, allowing us a glimpse, while its few pages still turn beneath our fingers, of a young life snuffed out before those around him have time to comprehend what has happened, and the aftermath of sudden tragedy as it settles back into the pitiless reality of eternity I don t see how one could reemerge the same person after the experience of reading A Taste of Blackberries Jamie is a source of constant amazement to his best friend, who is never given a name in this book Jamie is playful and unpredictable, taking chances where his friend is wary, not worried about neighborhood legends and cautionary tales to stick close to home and stay beneath the radar of grownups who are reportedly mean to kids Jamie is the kind of boy who will sneak into the yard of the neighbor rud to carry a gun to prevent theft from his prized apple tree, filch the shiny red fruit from the tree in question, and dash back to his friend s side with an apple for each of them, laughing about the risk he took to get it Where Jamie is showy and attracts attention, his friend merely watches his antics in quiet astonishment, knowing he would never duplicate Jamie s actions even if he could Who wants to always be on the brink of getting into trouble But Jamie s penchant for mischief backfires on him when he and a group of friends from the neighborhood agree to work for the cranky lady next door to remove beetles from her yard No one ever knew about Jamie s particular medical vulnerability, not even Jamie, and an afternoon of paid fun rounding up herbivorous beetles in glass jars morphs in an instant into a shocking tragedy no one could have foreseen The boy whom the word irrepressible could have been invented to describe is gone in a few minutes of fateful inaction, so quickly there s no time for his friends to fear the worst before it comes upon them How Jamie s best friend would love to endure the anxiety of his daring escapades now, to resurrect to existence the kid whose presence changed those around him moment by moment, never allowing a careful approach to spoil the fun of any situation Step by step as he wanders through his normal routine, Jamie s best friend runs up against places in his life where Jamie made his mark, a far deeper mark than he d ever noticed It s the window he stood at flashing morse code across their yards to Jamie and receiving signals back, communicating without words as effectively as if they were speaking face to face It s the blackberry patch that sits untouched now down by the river, luscious berries hanging ready to be picked and added to the basket, so ripe they practically fall off the stem at the faintest touch This new silence in the neighborhood is as loud a presence as Jamie ever was, conspicuously lacking an untamed, unrepentant boy to start the party What can Jamie s best friend do to fill the quiet of missing someone he often viewed as an exasperation to be tolerated, now that Jamie has stepped off the gangplank of this life into the ether of eternity, never to rile up the neighbors again, never to show up at his mother s door with a fresh batch of blackberries ready for baking, never to take on the world with his crazy ideas and keep everyone on their toes Jamie s friend has no way of knowing what he s supposed to do with the fact that Jamie is dead Should he talk to Jamie s mother or four year old sister, Martha, about the boy in their life who was taken too soon Should he know what the loss means to himself and his family, or how it affects the community, and come up with a meaningful tribute to Jamie based on that knowledge Jamie s best friend has no idea how to handle any of this All he has is his reaction in the present moment, dealing in the next breath with what has been lost and trying to figure out what he wants to do about it There are no outside expectations for his response to Jamie s death, leaving him free to react naturally to the tragedy that has touched them all And in an afternoon of dawning perception as he takes time to listen to what Jamie would say to him now, Jamie s friend comes up with a gesture of love so breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity of expression, the most hardened readers will be unable to staunch the flow of tears as a boy lost without the friend he has known forever reunites with the spirit of the only one who could ever be a best friend in his life The moment is fleeting and bittersweet, but its resounding emotion will never loosen its hold on the reader s heart R ipples go on forever and ever, even when you can t see them any A Taste of Blackberries, P 45 The name of Jamie s best friend is withheld throughout A Taste of Blackberries, and I think that s a good thing Rather than just reading a sad story about friends separated by the perplexing injustice of childhood death, we are invited to fill the shoes of Jamie s friend, to feel his imminent loss as our own, but only after meeting Jamie and getting to have him as our friend a little while, too Jamie isn t perfect, and there s no need for him to be who ever heard of a perfect friend But he is a friend, along with everything that designation entails, and the loss of a friend forever hits much harder than the death of a paragon of kindness, fairness and virtuosity from afar Because we are brought so close to the story by stepping into the position of Jamie s best friend, the sudden loss is much real and emotional than it would have been, and the final moment as the story closes is as personal and intense as anything I ve ever read A Taste of Blackberries is a master work of human emotion, perhaps the greatest novel of its size I ve encountered I can scarcely conceive how Doris Buchanan Smith was able to infuse a story of such brevity with so much power, a classic for the ages that will never lose its ability to touch hearts, no matter how much the world changes A big part of me wants to give four and a half stars to this book, and had it won the 1974 Newbery Medal, I m not sure I could have come up with a deserving alternative A Taste of Blackberries will always be one of the most memorable, meaningful books I ve ever read, and its echo will never cease ringing in my heart. As a project for my kids, I ve asked each member of my family to pick the very first book they remember making an impression on them I will purchase the books and each of us will inscribe our choices This was my choice A teacher gave me this book to read when I was in the third grade or so and it has stayed with me all these many years since In re reading it, I found it just asr meaningful although I met it on a different level and from a different perspective this go round I am again devasted but reminded even powerfully of the pull and power of books in my life. I just saw a book category on someone s shelf named Books that made me cry I immediately thought of this book from my childhood and the many times I enjoyed crying over this short but touching book Not being an expert on grief, I m not sure if the author dealt with the topic in a clinically accepted way To this day, I have never experienced prolonged grief at the loss of a friend or loved one However, I think that somewhere deep in my psyche this book has become part of the way I deal with loss because I read it at such a young age I do recommend the book for the younger set Maybe older people will like it too, but even back when I read it at the tender age of 10, it only took an hour or so to read. 3.75 starsDefinitely a reread for me I read this book several times as a young kid I remember the first time I read it was actually in 5th grade, on the first day of class I think My teacher read this book out loud to the class She cried at the end.My sister has always loved this book as well I think it s great how the author addresses the topic of death with children and all the bi questions that come along with it. Transitional BookThis is the touching story of a young boy and his best friend, Jamie It begins with a scene of them tasting blackberries and discovering that they are not yet ripe, then shows the two of them playing together, wrestling, and exploring It is obvious that the two are best friends, even though Jamie can be a bit dramatic at times However one day, while the neighborhood children are picking Japanese beetles from Mrs Houser s grapevines, Jamie is stung by a bee No one knows he is allergic, and he dies from the sting After Jamie s death, the main character has to learn how to cope without his best friend, and has to deal with life s toughest questions at a young age In the end, he realizes that it is okay to be happy, and that s what Jamie would have wanted He agrees to spend time with Jamie s family, and picks Jamie s mother a basket of blackberries, which have ripened since the beginning of the story.The cover of the version of this book that I read was kind of dull I don t think it would particularly grab the interest of most children, but there are newer versions with different covers that may be appealing The illustrations are simple, black and white sketches of main events of the story They are realistic, and would help the reader clarify questions that they may have about the main events of the story, so I think they would be helpful The chapters are fairly short, but they are longer than the two or three page chapters that some chapter books have.I would use this book in literature groups with third, fourth, or fifth grade students Although the issue of death is a difficult one, I think that students need literature like this that helps them better understand it Most students probably even have friends or family that have died suddenly, so this book would be helpful for them and would help them understand their feelings better Although it is a sad book, it is hopeful in the end, which would be good for students going through these issues This would also be a good book to have in a classroom library for independent reading time. I love this book, both because it is a great story, but also because the character Jamie was named after my dad My dad s grandmother was neighbors with Doris Buchanan Smith when my dad was little, and they were great friends Of course my great grandma Beard would always brag about her grandchildren and update her friends on how they were doing While Doris was writing this story, she needed a seemingly pointless and sudden death to give it the angle she wanted Around that time my dad s parents discovered that he was allergic to a rare type of wasp sting but he didn t die , and my great grandma told Doris about it Suddenly she knew the way she would have the character Jamie die, and she named him after my dad because she borrowed his allergy for the book. Oh gosh this was the book that taught me to pre read before reading aloud to my kid He and I were both bawling when I read it to him Later though, it stimulated a great talk about death and dying I wish this book had been around when I was in fourth grade and a friend died in a fire That was before the days of grief counseling in schools and such, so those of us who felt the loss weren t allowed to talk about it and just had to ignore our feelings and hope they d go away I hope that my son never has to go through the loss of a close friend like that, but if he does, at least now we ve had a talk about how mourning is normal and okay We probably wouldn t have if we hadn t read this book together.