Few Have Approached the Place of Honor This One Holds

Doris Buchanan Smith (June 1, 1934-August 8, 2002)

Do you remember A TASTE OF BLACKBERRIES? I was sixteen when it debuted in 1973, much older than the fourth and fifth graders it was marketed for. I read it three times and cried each time. I wrote a book report on it, though I'm sure I'd cringe if I found that junior high school essay and read it today. Whenever I find online that students, teachers and writers are still talking about A TASTE OF BLACKBERRIES and the impact that it had on them as young readers, it fills me with gratitude.

While drafting an essay for Wikipedia about my mother, I needed to cite credible and reliable sources before making any claims about the book's importance. My firsthand knowledge, the oral praise I had listened to all of my life, would not be sufficient for an encyclopedic article.

It so happened that my job as a legal word processor in Manhattan put me near The Main Branch of the New York Public Library. The Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue landmark, flanked by the famous pair of marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, had been one of my mother’s favorite places to hangout whenever she visited New York.

Here is some of what my research on A Taste of Blackberries turned up:

“It will be difficult to find a children’s book this autumn by a new author as good as Doris Buchanan Smith’s A Taste of Blackberries.” TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“A celebration of the continuity of the life-death cycle.” ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

“In Smith’s moving story, a prank ends in tragedy, and a boy must learn to live not only with the loss of a friend, but with the feeling that he could have prevented it.” PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

“Rightfully viewed, along with Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, as one of the seminal children’s books on the subject of death.” SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“It blazed the way for the many other grief books that quickly followed, but few have approached the place of honor this one holds.” JIM TRELEASE GIANT TREASURY OF GREAT READ-ALOUD BOOKS

"The author weaves a believable and poignant tale of friendship, loss, and acceptance." Book Links