A TASTE OF BLACKBERRIES by Doris Buchanan Smith

A TASTE OF BLACKBERRIES

Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

As in Mann's My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel, above, the purpose here is more therapeutic than aesthetic, but (also like My Dad...) this is an honest and understanding first-person reconstruction of the thoughts and feelings any child might have in the situation. The subject here is death. The narrator's friend Jamie is first seen laughing in a blackberry patch, then stealing apples from an ornery farmer reputed to have a gun; a little later he is poking into a beehive with a stick, and when he screams and falls and writhes on the ground his friend thinks that he is just horsing around as usual. Soon afterwards, Jamie is dead from a bee sting. The other boys's progressive reactions are both individual and psychologically true: first, numb incomprehension and a sense of incongruity ("Did the world know that Jamie was dead? The sky didn't act like it"), then denial ("It seemed that as long as I acted like he wasn't dead, he wouldn't be dead"), bargaining ("Maybe it didn't make much sense but I knew I couldn't eat until after the funeral"), and asking why (when a neighbor answers that some questions do not have answers, "This made more sense than if she tried to tell me some junk about God needing angels"). Then when the blackberries ripen, he picks two baskets, one for his own and one for Jamie's mother, who thanks him and doesn't cry—and "in my relief I felt that Jamie, too, was glad the main sadness was over." Tailormade to support the current emphasis by child psychologists and psychiatrists on preparing children to deal with death. (Fiction. 8-12)
Pub Date: May 21st, 1973
ISBN: 978-0-06-440238-5
Page count: 100pp
Publisher: T.Y. Crowell
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1973




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