Blackberries in the Dark

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"Austin's visit to his grandmother's is the first since Grandpa died. Austin notices Grandpa's things but feels the emptiness of his absence. This spare story vividly captures the emotions of painful times and shows how they ease with sharing and remembering. Boy and grandfather were close, but boy and grandmother seem destined to be just as close, with Grandpa's memory to bind them. Poignant and perceptive, this has impressive resonance, and readers won't easily shed its warm afterglow."--(starred)Booklist.
Curriculet Details
8 Questions
8 Annotations
2 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for elementary school students contains interactive videos exploring literal and figurative language and identifying themes in literature, as well as annotations describing text to self connections and setting. Students will explore the themes of grief over losing a loved one and family traditions. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

Blackberries in the Dark, by Mavis Jukes, is the story of nine year old Austin, who isn't sure what to do with himself while he visits his grandmother for the first time since his grandfather's death. He can no longer go fishing like he used to with his grandfather, so he and his grandmother must start some new family traditions. As you read, think about the activities and traditions that you enjoy with your family.  
Why is Austin feeling uneasy and out of sorts during his visit with his grandmother this year?  

Chapter 2

Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Which of the following things does Austin see that reminds him of his grandfather?  
Austin's grandmother is trying to find activities to entertain him, but Austin isn't interested in her antique dolls or learning how to string beads. Instead, he wants to look at his grandfather's tractor and fishing gear. Austin and his grandmother do not share similar interests, and he is feeling sad and missing his grandfather. Can you recall a time when you have missed a loved one who is far away or no longer living? What advice would you give to Austin to help him feel better?  

Chapter 3

Describe the relationship that Austin shared with his grandfather, including a description of the things they liked to do together.  
Pay attention to the highlighted passage, because it focuses on a central message or theme in the story. Can you identify this theme? The following video will show you how to identify a central message or theme in literature.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 1 
Why is Austin's grandmother not going with him to pick blackberries?  

Chapter 4

Have you ever gone berry picking? Think about the setting of Grandmother's ranch. The image below shows you what blackberry bushes look like. Do you think it would be fun to go berry picking with Austin?  (This annotation contains an image)
What does Austin's grandmother do to help him though his feelings of loneliness and grief over the death of his grandfather?  
This summer, Austin's Grandfather had planned on teaching him how to fly-fish. Instead, Austin and his grandmother are going to figure out how to fly-fish because Grandfather isn't there to teach them. The following video will show you a variety of different fly fishing techniques. Would you like to learn how to fly-fish?  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 5

Explain why eating blackberries in the dark is a new family tradition for Austin and his grandmother.  
Study the above illustration and think about how the picture emphasizes the words you read in the text. For example, can you tell the mood of Austin and his grandmother? Are they feeling excited? Determined? What things do you notice about the setting?  
Why is Austin throwing the fish back into the water?  

Chapter 6

As you read, think about the meaning of words and phrases in the text, including literal and non-literal language. For example, the highlighted phrase, "Rump over teakettle" is an example of non-literal or figurative language. Grandmother uses this phrase to describe how she was topsy-turvy and unstable as she slid down the bank of the stream. She did not really have her rump over a teakettle. The following video will show you how to distinguish between literal and non-literal language.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Austin have grandmother's antique doll?  
Quiz 2