Perfect Picture Book Friday – Jamberry

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

This is the second in my series reviewing books for very young children and babies. Our own copy of JAMBERRY by Bruce Degen is dog-eared but still going strong. Enjoy!

Title: Jamberry

Author/Illustrator: Bruce Degen

Publisher: HarperFestival

Year: 1983 (board book published 1995)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Adventure; Language Fun


One berry/Two berry/Pick me a blueberry

Hatberry/Shoeberry/In my canoeberry

Under the bridge/And over the dam/Looking for berries/Berries for jam

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) They’re off…a boy and an endearing, rhyme-spouting bear, who squires him through a fantastic world of berries. And their adventure comes to a razzamatazz finale under a starberry sky.

Children will want to feast again and again on Bruce Degen’s exuberant, colorful pictures and his rollicking, berryful rhymes.

What makes it great: The exuberant, playful, and inventive use of language, plus the richly detailed illustrations where you can always find something new to look at make this a delight to read over and over (and over and over).

What readers notice: My children always loved the moment when the bear and the boy tip their canoe down a waterfall of blueberries (a wordless spread) as well as the end, where the boy and bear end up buried in a mountain of berries.

What a writer notices: This story is really just a romp, but even still there is a clear purpose stated at the beginning (the characters are “Looking for berries/Berries for jam”) which is achieved at the end (“Mountains and fountains/Rain down on me/Buried in berries/What a jam jamboree!”). In this way, the author achieves a change in the characters from the start to the end of the story.

I also admire how he managed shift the lilt and rhythms of his text so that each section achieves a different feel, appropriate to the illustrations. For example, one section shows a train passing through a blackberry patch, and the text takes on the rhythm of a train:

Quickberry!/Quackberry!/Pick me a blackberry!


In the next section, the text swings and rolls just like the brass band shown in the illustration:


Berryband/Merryband/Jamming in berryland

It’s subtle, but all adds to the delight of this story.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

Counting, art, movement, and food-related activities:

Art, cooking, movement, and science activities:

A recipe. I didn’t make it, but it looks delicious!

20 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Jamberry

  1. Tina Cho says:

    I had to teach with this book in kindergarten as it was part of the reading curriculum. I now own this book and used it with my son. BTW, I found the lullaby book you talked about last week in a library in Seoul! Go figure!

  2. patientdreamer says:

    What an endearing book. When I saw the title I thought, mmm, this has to me for me…lol. Love the way how it rhymes and the play on words, just as beneficial a tool in learning to write poetry. Love its playfull cover. Thanks Carrie.

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    This book is a tour de force, I think! For starters, how can you not love a book called Jamberry? It’s just fun to say! 🙂 Thanks for adding this one to our list, Carrie – it’s about time someone did 🙂

  4. Julie says:

    This is one of our ALL TIME favorite PBs. Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Degen and telling him I thought it was one of the most brilliant PBs ever written. He was so humble about it. This is a must for all children.

    • Carrie Finison says:

      Oh, I would LOVE to meet him! We also love the Jesse Bear books, which he illustrated and (until I wrote this review) I had no idea that he was also the illustrator of the Magic School Bus series.

  5. Richa Jha says:

    This sounds like such a berriliciously yummy book, Carrie! I’ll try and see if my kids’ school library has this one; can’t wait to feast on the gorgeous illustrations!

  6. Laura Anne Miller says:

    Carrie, I’d forgotten this book! Our girls used to read it to each other and when my youngest was about 2 she would ask for peanut butter and jamberry sandwiches. Thanks for reminding me – I’m going to have to revisit.

  7. Ganenette says:

    Does anyone have the recording of this awesome book? I am in Israel and want to share it with my toddler class. Will someone download it, please? I’ve searched the web and cannot find it anywhere.

    Thanks a million!

      • Ganenette says:

        Thanks Carrie, but there is a CD of a song with the words to the book that I am looking for. It was included with the Houghton Mifflin book. I am wondering if someone has it and can download it and send it to me. I am out of the country and would very much appreciate it if I could share it with my toddler class. I loved it myself!

        Thanks, again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s