Jane Buchanan The Berry-Picking Man

ISBN 13: 9780374406103

The Berry-Picking Man

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9780374406103: The Berry-Picking Man
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A story about empathy and charity

Nine-year-old Meggie hates Old Sam, the berry-picking man. He smells bad, he talks to himself, and, worst of all, he likes Meggie. She wishes her mother, a photographer, didn’t feel responsible for Old Sam, and especially that Mama didn’t involve Meggie in her charitable activities. Mama doesn’t bother Meggie’s sisters. Maybe it’s because they’re older. Meggie figures being the baby in the family must also be why she can’t have what she wants most, a camera of her own. As Christmas approaches, she longs for one, and when she finally opens her heart to Old Sam, Meggie earns her camera.

Illustrated with poignant watercolor paintings, this is an unusual and thought-provoking story about a girl who discovers more than one common bond with her mother, and who wonders whether she is cursed or blessed.

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About the Author:

Jane Buchanan is the author of Gratefully Yours and Hank’s Story, both novels about children who ride the orphan train in 1923. She lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Leslie Bowman has illustrated many books for children, including Deborah Chandra’s Balloons and Other Poems and Rich Lizard and Other Poems. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2-4-A formerly hospitalized mental patient released to live in the community shows up in church one day, and Meggie's photographer mother reaches out to him, providing a meal, buying the berries he picks, and chauffeuring him in the family car, always taking her youngest daughter with her. When the nine-year-old asks her mother why she supports the man, Mama answers, "It's called empathy.- This being able to feel other people's hurts. To see the world through their lens." When Sam asks to spend Christmas with the family, Meggie and her two older sisters refuse, and he is injured while hitchhiking and hospitalized. Feeling guilty, Meggie has a change of heart and convinces her family to include him for Christmas. Parents who try to instill a sense of civic responsibility in their children will identify with the mother who, except for one daughter, seems to be fighting an uphill battle with the rest of the family. Those who stick with the quiet story may appreciate Meggie's bonding with her mother and the slight changes in the older sisters' attitudes. Bowman's black ink wash illustrations lighten the short chapters, but the story's didactic tone and message tend to overwhelm its appeal.
Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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