Grade Level Equivalent:
Guided Reading Level:
Death, Grief, Loss, Friends and Friendship
For a young boy, summer means endless days spent with his best friend, Jamie, a bright and clever boy, full of life and mischief. If the two of them aren't picking blackberries, they're wrestling or skipping stones across a creek. Together, these two boys are in constant motion. But summer is interrupted when Jamie is stung by a bee and dies. The young boy who is the narrator of the story learns how Jamie is the victim of a severe allergy. He is also left to witness the aftermath of Jamie's death without the company and camaraderie of his best friend. If there was ever a time he needed Jamie's friendship it is now. But Jamie is gone and the young boy is alone in his confusion, and left with a sadness he can't understand or describe.
A Taste of Blackberries, written by Doris Buchanan Smith, is narrated by a young boy who is keenly aware of all the events that swirl around him. His is an innocent voice struggling with the fact of his best friend's death, yet, it is through his eyes that the reader bears witness to Jamie's tragedy, the grieving of Jamie's mother, and his funeral that follows. Charles Robinson's simple illustrations capture the loneliness and confusion expressed by the narrator with haunting precision. This is a book that speaks frankly of death and yet with enough care to help the reader understand the grief it causes.