A Taste of Blackberries
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A Taste of Blackberries

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  943 ratings  ·  143 reviews
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? H...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published May 1st 1973)
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Community Reviews

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Alvina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lexi
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 parent...more
Clackamas
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 s...more
Josiah
"(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...more
MLE
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...more
Eveeta Bajracharya
The story of a loss of a friend portrayed so simply, and yet touching our hearts. Its simplicity and innocence urges everyone to read it once.
Catherine Kirk
Transitional Book

This 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 i...more
Holly Crepps
"A Taste of Blackberries" is a heart-wrenching story about two boys who are best friends. The narrator, (who remains unnamed) admires his best friend, Jamie, and has been his partner in adventure for the duration of their childhood. One day, one of their fun pranks goes all wrong, and after a tragic accident Jamie dies. The rest of the book is about the narrator learning to live with the sadness of losing his best friend, and trying to deal with the burden of believing he could've prevented it....more
Emily Calzi
A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith is a truly somber tale. It is the story of two best friends who embark on many adventures together. The narrator is never named, but we do know his best friend Jamie. Jamie is the jokester, who especially loves attention. The narrator at times cannot stand his friends need for attention, and sometimes takes a break from Jamie. The fun comes to an abrupt halt and the story completely shifts to a sad and upsetting resolution. This novel honestly and...more
Sarah Pfingston
This book is very unexpected. When reading the cover one would have no clue as to what the story is going to be about.

There are two friends Jamie and the Narrator. Jamie is a free spirit, dare devil, jokester type of kid. The narrator is best friends with Jamie, but they aren't very similar. The book describes different experiences the boys go through together and their day to day life. One day Mrs. Houser ask the boys to get Japanese beetles off her grapevines and Jamie is goofing off with a b...more
Larissa
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...more
John Conrad
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...more
Kathy
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 dev...more
 Imani ♥ ☮
When my fifth grade teacher read this to the class, I was so upset. I mean, here's this little stupid book. About some summer with these two boys. Best friends. LALALALALa. They're all happy. Then all of a sudden, some darn bee stings one of them...and, oh no!...one of them is allergic to bees. And get this...he DIES! I mean, DIESSSSSS. I mean, seriously? Then for the rest of the darn book the one boy is tying to cope. I'm not sure exactly where the blackberry thing comes in but it's in there so...more
Hannah Rich
A Taste of Blackberries is a story of a young boy and his best friend, Jamie. It starts out with the narrator (the book is told in first person) and Jamie tasting blackberries, when they find out that the berries are not yet ripe. The scene then illustrates the two best friends playing with one another, wrestling, and exploring outside. Although Jamie sometimes shows off, the reader can infer that the narrator and Jamie are great friends. One day, while many of the kids who live in the neighborh...more
Diana Pettis
This is a good book for parents to read with children so that they can understand someone close to them dying rather suddenly. I am not sure if I would do it as a guided reading text or not, it would depend on the level of maturity of the children. Copyrighted in 1973, I noticed some interesting vocabulary that you don't hear often which included; hitch-hiking and attention getter.

Guided Reading Level S, DRA 40, grade level equivalent 3.2, and lexile 640.
Debbie Boucher
I read this with my class as preparation for Literature Circles. Whenever I'm the new teacher, I inherit whatever is in the closet. This novel set had enough copies for everyone and a guide to go with it, so I figured, What the heck? It was good, but in light of what just happened in Newtown, I found it heavy going. My students were fine with it, and it was a good pick for training them to run groups independently.
Alyssa Gergins
This beautiful story teaches a lot about death and life. Jamie was a mischievous and adventurous boy who was always picking blackberries or wrestling with his best friend who is the narrator. When they come across a bee hole, Jamie pokes it with a stick and gets stung multiple times. His best friend comes to find out that Jamie was allergic to bees and he ends up passing away. The boy now has to live with the sorrow of losing his closest friend. He starves himself and questions what it means to...more
Karen
This is a beautiful story that captures both the depth of the friendship between two best friends and the devastating loss one feels when the other is suddenly, unexpectedly, dead. The narrator’s name is never revealed, making the story seem more personalized and yet the author maintains a light touch that her young audience can understand without being terrified by the content. This book is an excellent introduction to death, especially the incomprehensible death of a peer and would make a good...more
Taylor Downs
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Cheryl in CC NV
Reading level 4, ages 8-12. Perfect story to help young children realize the different feelings one can have in reaction to an incredible loss. If I were a third-grade teacher I would read this to my class - most of them are going to lose somebody (besides grandparents) before they graduate high school and being fore-armed would help.
Haselton
"A Taste of Blackberries" is a simple book that deals with a complicated issue. Dealing with the death of someone is difficult always. Dealing with the death of a child is almost an unbearable tragedy. Dealing with all this emotion when you are a child yourself is unthinkable.
Debbie
I remembered reading this back in the 1980's for a university Children's Literature course and just re-read it. A great book to broach a difficult and often frightening subject for children. Written for kids, the ending is realistic, yet uplifting and hopeful.
Nicole
I read this book to my 2nd graders, and they lived it! We are writing this review together. Emelia said " It has some sad parts, and everybody is sad- not just you." Spoiler Alert

Wyatt said "It was sad that Jamie died." Esperanza said "It was very intelligent."
Robin
This was a fav when I was a kid. I retread it for my students; it is not as dynamic as I remember. This book is very similar to the movie My Girl. Unfortunately, I would say that it is outdated now.
Ariane
A young boy learns how to deal with the death of his friend. I read this when I was a kid, yet I still remember it vividly and fondly. I can not say that about most books that I read.
Lauren Cecil
Although I read this when I was very young this book will forever leave a mark in my mind. This book teaches you how to deal with death and the loss of someone too young to die.
Darrell
This book deals with a boy whose best friend has died. It is a horrible subject that is dealt with in a loving way. Don't be scared of this book; it is quite good.
Stacey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle
A touching tear-jerker, written with a terse, yet thoughtful voice that the youngest chapter-book readers can identify with.
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