cover image Purple Delicious Blackberry Jam

Purple Delicious Blackberry Jam

Lisa Westberg Peters. Arcade Publishing, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-167-9

Two upper-crust urchins, Muff and Freddy, discover how challenging jam-making can be when they try to revive an old-fashioned tradition. After talking Grandma into going berry-picking, they learn that preparing the treat involves thorny bushes, swarms of mosquitoes, green inchworms and--messiest of all--cooking blackberry juice and waiting for it to cool. Although these kids seem too storybook-perfect to get their hands dirty, purple goo ends up all over them--and even on their wiggly pet dachshund--before the jam is ready to eat. Peters ( The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain ; Water's Way ) knows whereof she writes, but her tale seems rather pedestrian: perhaps because of the plot's limitations, readers' interest here will be minimal. McGregor supplies stylish, swooping line drawings in pastel hues. Grandma appears contemporary despite her gray hair and frumpy apron; pert Muff and cherubic Freddy retain a genteel air even at their sloppiest. A tepid, white-bread look at a pastoral pursuit. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)