Tear jerker

I've volunteered to coach my 3rd-grade son's "Book Bowl" team, which means I get to read all the books. Yesterday I read A Taste of Blackberries, and oh, did I cry buckets! Whew! In a nutshell, the narrator's best friend dies from an allergic reaction to a beesting. Although the book could have delved a little deeper into the complexities of the narrator's feelings (or could it? after all, this is a book for 3rd graders), there were some very moving images. For example, the narrator is very upset when he sees some of the dead boy's friends playing outside after the funeral, yet his feet felt like playing, too, even though his heart was heavy. I can't find the book, or I'd give the exact quote. It was lovely.

Next up on the Book Bowl list is My Trip to Alpha 1, by Alfred Slote.

I was going to write something fascinating about Alfred Slote but I'll have to do it later because the Little Guy suddenly started bawling in his crib. Gotta go!


  • the two books from childhood that I remember about death of a friend are Bridge to Terribithia and Summer to Die. Both contributed to my present day anxiety of my children's dying. (o.k., maybe it's the other way around). Is Blackberries likely to put my child on constant vigilance lest a friend die in a freak accident?

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 10:13 PM  

  • Is Summer to Die the one where the girl's older sister dies of leukemia? In the middle of the night she gets a bloody nose that just won't stop? If so, my recollection of it, and Bridge, are that they are deeper, more young adult-ish books than this one. Still, if he reads it, be prepared to discuss with him how RARE beesting allergies are. Something else to be aware of in Blackberries is that the narrator actually witnesses the death. He sees his friend writhing on the ground and thinks he's just hamming it up as usual, so he ignores him and walks off. In the book guilt doesn't seem to be an issue, but it probably should have been, and if it was targeted at older kids it probably would have been.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 12:56 PM  

  • re: Summer to Die, you got it. In fact, the bloody nose scene is about the only thing I remember from the book and it makes me flip every time anyone in our family has any tinge of blood on any material coming out of their nose.

    I think I will save A Taste of Blackberries AT LEAST until third grade (I mean, if it's in the book bowl, someone must think it's safe for kids...).

    Just from the anecdote you posted I can see how it was a tear jerker!

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 3:14 PM