A Blackberry Farm Story
Pictures by LeUyen Pham
April 2, 2019
Blurb: Adventure and discover with the bold and intrepid Becket Branch when her family’s move from city to a country farm means big changes!
Everything is changing for Becket Branch. From subways to sidewalks to safety rules, Becket is a city kid born and raised. Now the Branch family is trading urban bustle for big green fields and moving to Gran’s farm, where Becket has to make sense of new routines from feeding animals to baling hay. And as much as Becket loves to yell “Beautiful Alert!” there’s a lot about the countryside that is just plain odd.
But Becket is ready to put her own spin on country life. Whether selling her mouth-puckering lemonade, feeding hostile hens, or trying to make a best friend of her new neighbor Frieda Franca, Becket is determined to use her city smarts to get a grip on farm living. Laugh and learn with Becket as she mucks through the messy, exuberant human experience of change she didn’t ask for, in a story that sparkles with quirky characters and lasting connections.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
Rebecca Branch and her family are moving to the country, which calls for a new name so Rebecca becomes Becket. Becket is sure she will love living in the country even if her older sister, Caroline, and twin brother, Nicholas, aren’t so sure.
Becket discovers that in some ways the move is not what she expected and in other ways, it’s better. She’s resilient and goes with the flow.
I found The Becket List by Adele Griffin to be very realistic, with Becket’s sometimes noisy brashness right on the mark. I loved how kind and gentle she was with the animals she encountered, learning that her active noise must be toned down, and how she intuited the right way to behave in different circumstances. She’s very honest with everyone.
The story brought about a lot of smiles and even some tears, especially at the end. Becket’s penchant for calling “Beautiful Alert” every time she encounters something special is a wonderful thing.
And the illustrations are so cute!
I highly recommend The Becket List, which is appropriate for Middle Grade readers.
I received an ARC from Algonquin Young Readers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies
An Interview with Becket Branch:
THE BECKET LIST (publication date: April 2, 2019; $16.95) by Adele Griffin’s charming and memorable main character Becket Branch answers questions about her catchphrases and country life.
Why did you decide to change your name from Rebecca to Becket?
Well, for one thing, I am really good at running fast, and Becket is a name that sounds like it runs faster than Rebecca. Also Becket fits better on a name-tag, which is important because I’m going to a new camp and new school this year.
You experience big changes moving from New York City to the country. What will you miss most about the big city?
I miss all the ways you can get around in the city. You can walk, take the bus or the subway– or even a taxi cab.
Also, food trucks. You can get anything– pretzels, burritos, popsicles, tacos, muffins, pickles– from a food truck. It’s snacks on wheels!
Throughout the book, you add to a list of the ways you are embracing the country. What was the inspiration for your “How to Be a Country Kid” list?
I’ve spent my whole life in the city, and I am kind of an expert. Like where is the playground and the library, or the movie theater and the pizza place. How to step around pigeons. The best trick-or-treat blocks. Where to watch skateboarders. I know about safety tips and how to pat other people’s dogs.
But what do I know about the country? Nothing! I made a list so I can become an expert on bugs and plants, and how to tell when a crabapple is ripe. What’s worse than a big bite of sour crabapple? And country living should be SWEET.
Tell us about your dog, Mr. Fancypants!
My mom and dad said Mr. Fancypants is in the “autumn of his years” which is another way of saying super old.
He has been in our family since before I was born, and now mostly he eats peanut butter and takes naps. The sound of his snoring is the most peaceful sound I know.
What’s a Beautiful Alert and what was your first one?
Beautiful Alert is when you see something that everyone else needs to see, too—so you have to shout it the minute you see it. Even if you interrupt grown-ups talking.
My first Beautiful Alert was when I saw all our city trees had bloomed overnight. I found out later they are called dogwood trees. Now that we live in the country, I see about twenty million nature-y Beautiful Alerts a day. So I have to pick how much I shout.