CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 8. . . .October 28, 2016
In Blackberry Juice, nine-year-old Cyrus and his brother, Rudy, have been plucked from their city home to live in a farmhouse with their parents. The farmhouse is nothing like the storybook house that Cyrus expects. There are no friendly sheep, no velvet-nosed horses, and no tire swing in the yard. Instead, the house looks old and worn out; the barn roof is sagging, the yard is a wreck, and the only animal to be found is an ancient and sad-looking donkey.
Before they are even moved in, Dad makes an immediate departure to go off to work in the lumber camp, and so Mom and the boys are left on their own to adjust to life in the country. The boys are not convinced that this move was such a great idea. Mom is quite cheerful, pointing out the good things that the country has to offer. When Cyrus complains about the long walk to the neighbourís house to get some eggs, she points out that distance between neighbours can be a good thing. Later, when he complains about the blinding brightness of the egg yolks, Mom explains that the colour is because of the fresh food and clean air that the chickens get, which is also a very good thing.
Because eight-year-old Rudy climbs things when heís anxious, he initially does a lot of climbing Ė up trees, up onto the kitchen counter, anywhere to get away from whatever makes him anxious. Their equally neurotic cat, Wigglechin, is always clinging to something she doesnít want to fall from but hasnít figured out that, if she doesnít climb in the first place, thereís no danger of falling. The cat is a bit over the top, but the lively illustrations of Wigglechin in her various predicaments are quite funny. All the illustrations are terrific, in fact. Simply rendered in black and white, they depict the funny and the dramatic scenes in the story very well.
The boys quickly befriend the mysterious girl who is their neighbour. Rachel has quirky taste in clothes. She wears all orange one day, all purple on another, and paints her nails to match what she wears. But her clothing choices donít matter because she is friendly and helpful, and Cyrus is surprised to realize that they have things in common. You just know that they will become best friends.
In a surprising twist, Cyrus is left on his own one afternoon and ends up stranded on a rock when the tide comes in. Itís a slightly scary scene in which you can practically feel the cold wind and water as you read. Cyrus is frightened and nobody hears his cries for help, except one unlikely character who comes to the rescue. Blackberry Juice is a happy-ever-after story, the sequel to Not For Sale.
Lorraine Jackson is a cataloguer in the Queen Elizabeth II Library at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. Johnís.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.