A Taste of Blackberries

A Taste of Blackberries


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What do you do without
your 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 friend.

But 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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064402385
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/28/2004
Series: A Trophy Bk.
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 221,077
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Doris Buchanan Smith is mother to five school-age children, four of her own and one for whom she and her husband are permanent guardians. The Smiths have also been parents to more than twenty-two foster children. Her experiences have given her exceptional insight into the problems of being young as well as those of growing up. Now that her children are in school Mrs. Smith spends a minimum of three hours a day writing. She also likes animals and the woods, and is interested in nature and conservation. A Taste Of Blackberries is her first book.

Mike Wimmer is the illustrator of a number of highly acclaimed picture books, including All the Places to Love, written by Patricia MacLachlan, and Train Song, written by Diane Siebert. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Jamie and I snagged our way into the thicket of the blackberry patch. I picked a dark berry and popped it into my mouth. The insides of my cheeks puckered.

"They need a few more days to ripen," I said.

Jamie had got stuck and had his thumb in his mouth. He took it out with a smacking sound and put his "shh" finger to his lips. Someone was coming.

"I'll bet Jamie and them will be sorry they didn't come," a voice said. I was "and them."

Jamie and I made faces at one another and pressed our lips together to keep quiet.

"Maybe they knew the berries weren't ripe," another voice said.

Jamie nodded. I almost laughed out loud.

"Well, that's what Jamie will say anyway." The voices began to fade. "He thinks he knows everything."

Jamie nodded again. He clasped his arms to himself, shaking in silent laughter.

"I've got to get out of here," he whispered. He started charging his way out of the brambles. The stickers snatched at him every which-a-way. When he cleared the patch he fell down and rolled.

Jamie couldn't laugh without falling down in exaggeration. But he did have more sense than to fall in the middle of a blackberry patch.

I sat down cross-legged and watched. I could see the tops of the kids' heads as they went down the hill. It was funny, that we'd been right there, hidden, and heard them talking about us.But it wasn't worth having a fit over.

That Jamie. For my best friend he surely did aggravate me sometimes. I mean, if we got to pretend ing -- circus dogs, for instance -- he didn't know when to quit. You could get tired and want to do something else but that stupid Jamiewould crawl around barking all afternoon. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was just plain tiresome.

Jamie sat up, finally, and wiped the tears that had squeezed out from the corners of his eyes.

"Race you to the creek," he said. He hopped up and tore down the dirt road behind the houses. He had sneaked a head start on me and I really had to dig in to catch up with him.

If we started even I could always beat him. And, since he beat me in most things, I wasn't giving him an inch if I could help it. I urged my legs into long strides and pumped my arms by my sides. I pulled ahead of him just as we reached the creek.

"Oh, you!" he scowled teasingly. He grabbed the side of my head and pulled me toward him, curved his leg around behind mine, then pushed.

As I went down I clutched his shirt and pulled him with me. We rolled around in the dirt until I said, "I give up."

Jamie would never quit but I got tired after a while. I had seen Jamie fight with bigger boys, Even if he was getting beat he wouldn't give up. If they let him go he piled back into them, asking for more.

We rock-hopped the creek and sat down on the other side where there was a fence to lean on.

Jamie's face was crimson. Dirt made streaks where it had stuck to the sweat.

"Is my face," I puffed, "as red as yours?"

He passed his hand across his face as though he could feel how red it was. He whooshed out his breath and leaned over the creek to splash his face.

"Brrr," he shivered. "That water must be about thirtythree degrees!"

I stuck my finger in the water to remind myself how cold it was. When we waded it was a challenge to see who could stand it longer. The water cooled the air around and the trees held the coolness under a green umbrella of leaves. You could even smell the cool.

Jamie finished splashing and nodded toward the other side of the fence.

"How about an apple?"

"Oh, no. Thank you," I said.

The fence guarded a farm which the city had surrounded. The farm was said to be guarded, also, by a farmer with a shotgun. Older boys made a game of snitching apples.

"Aw, come on," Jamie urged.

"Not me." I wrinkled my face and shook my head.

"Yeah," Jamie said scornfully. "You're afraid of him just like you're afraid of Mrs. Houser."

Mrs. Houser was Jamie's next door neighbor, my across-the-street neighbor. Honestly, we tried to stay out of her yard. But if you accidentally stepped one foot inside her boundary line she shouted out her window. She seemed to be always looking out her window to see if anyone touched a blade of her precious grass.

"I don't think he would shoot a boy over an apple," Jamie said. "Come on, chicken." He started over the fence.

"Cluck, cluck, cluck," I said, trying not to let myself feel dared. "Chicken and proud of it." I grinned at Jamie, trying to joke him out of his idea.

Jamie up-and-overed the fence and started across the field. My eyes skimmed the field until they bumped into the house. I thought I saw a movement at the door.

"Jamie, come back," I screamed.

Jamie kept going and never stopped. He reached the tree, shinnied up, grabbed a couple of apples, jumped down and started back.

The man had come out onto his porch. I fancied I saw a shotgun cradled in his arms. It was too far away for me to be sure. I ducked.

What would I do if Jamie got shot? Should I climb the fence and help him? How could I get him back over the fence? Maybe I should run for help instead.

I squeezed my eyes closed, waiting for the blast. Next thing I knew I was in the field myself, racing toward Jamie. He pushed an apple into my hand and we made tracks back to the creek. Two boys never cleared a fence so fast.

We skittered down the bank so we would be out of sight of the house.

"Did you see him?" I asked. My heart was beating paradiddles.

A Taste of Blackberries. Copyright © by Doris Buchanan Smith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Taste of Blackberries 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Stephen.Cooper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kyle and Jamie were best friends and spent a lot of time together. They played baseball, walked down the creek, and ate blackberries. But one day Jamie never showed up to play and Kyle went to find out what happened to his best chum. It turns out he died of a bee sting allergy. Kyle is upset and doesn't know what do then he wanted to pick one more batch of blackberries in memory of his friend. So he asked Jamie¿s mom to help him. I didn¿t like this book because it was too short . It needed a longer ending and beginning. If I were to make this book better I would give the places more discripted words. The part I least like is when Jamie died of the bee sting allergy. The only good part about the book is when they bake the blackberry pie because I¿d never heard of a kind of pie like that before. All the character didn¿t have a lot of description in the book. I will not recommend this book because it¿s very short and not that discriptive.
sarabird on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This chapter book is a great read aloud for upper elementary students. It is about two best friends who live in the same neighborhood. One of the friends dies, and the other friend must now deal with moving on with his life while still remembering and honoring his lost friend. Students will learn to be empathetic toward the characters in the book while reading this.
tshrum06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great example of realistic fiction. The main character deals with the death of his friend in a way that seems very likely. Unfortunately, the unexpected loss of children is a realistic event, so the story is believable. David's parents and neighbors treat him how you might expect them to, as well, adding to the believability. Media: pencil
BaileyJ More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book in the third grade and nearly 20 years later, I still get choked up thinking of this story. It must have been very well written to have left such an impression on me! I'd like to read this book again as I plan on introducing it to my own children someday. Highly recommend for third - sixth grade children. 
RandyHS More than 1 year ago
This excellent book by Doris Buchanan Smith is approaching its 40th anniversary - and a million copies sold! Have you read A Taste of Blackberries? I'm the author's son, Randy, and having read it many times over, I can promise it is as fresh and relevant today as it was forty years ago. But not everyone responds the same way to this insightful book! As mom would say, "it's a free country." The subject is weighty for some young readers, and parents and teachers are cautioned to read the book before giving it to your child. That said, you need look no further for a rich and unforgettable reading experience. Howard Randall Smith
kuyabatok More than 1 year ago
A Taste of Blackberries I think this book was great, it is also a fiction story but the story is like a real life story. This was a great book because it's telling how sad if your best friend died. This book followed the step of when someone died like anger. I think more 4th grader has to read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in fourth grade and read this book with my third grade teacher. It's sad but it teaches you a lesson about friendship. One of my friends cried really hard when Jamie died. I wish Jamie hadn't died, I wish he had lived. Bees can really sometimes annoy me. I'm not a honey eater.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a little girl when I read this book. Actually I was recovering from a bad elbow break and couldnt do anything but read(which I still love to do). I just want to thank the author for making that period in time for me better and I recommend it to children of all ages. Both my children have read it and some of my friends children too... GREAT BOOK!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read A Taste of Blackberries when I was in fourth grade. I am now thirty nine years old, and I teach high school English. Blackberries is so poignantly written concerning the death of a young friend that it serves as a comfort for the child, a jumping point to dicuss a personal tragedy with your children and a texbook example of just how to deal with life and death experiences with youth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that the book is a great one. It will make you seem like you are in the book. I'm in 6th grade and I loved it. It's one that will make all ages connect, understand, and love the book of Taste of Blackberries. That's why I recommend the Taste of Blackberries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is good for all ages. I'm in 6th grade and I loved it. Jamie is the main character and he is a joker. He loves to trick his friends. He does a lot of things that you would never dream of doing: he hitchhikes rides, stels things, and a lot more dangeres things. I think the Taste of Blackbarries is a great book. You will have to read The Taste of Blackbarries to find out more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think it was a good book. It was good because it shows how good of friends they were. And what they did together. It was sad because his best friend, name Jamie,died. It was also a good book because the author gave a lot of detail I liked what they did before Jamie died. Jamie's friend did not let Jamie go. That is why I recommend A Taste of Blackberries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Taste of Blackberries book is good because it reminds me of the real world where no one lives for ever and reality can be cruel somtimes and its no fun to be alone .
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy who comes to grips with the tragedy of losing his best friend. This is a very touching book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this when I was a small child,I am 41 yrs old and think about this book often. It is a timeless book that children will love and also has a lesson in it. It may be a good book for children to read that has had a friend die. I am going to be getting this book for my daughter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book as a class assigment in fifth grade and at the time didn't like it. I recently loss someone I loved and this book gives such great insight into what it's like and how to cope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i'min 5th grade and just finished it and i thought it was a touching story
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too read this book over twenty years ago and now I have the joy of experiencing it with my daughter as she reads it for the first time. It provides a valuable lesson for readers of any age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a fabulous tale, as sweet as blackberries! I read this book more than twenty years ago, and the lessons still ring true. Now I want to pass it on to my nieces and nephews. Congratulations Doris Buchanan Smith
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in Elementary school and I never forgot it. I am 37 years old! My little boy is about to read it for the first time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in elementary school and I am 37 years old and still remember it.My little boy is about to read it for the first time.