As a serial mover, I’m drawn to tales involving someone who moves houses. Today’s Perfect Picture Book is one of the more lyrical and beautiful recent ones.
Title: In a Jar
Written & Illustrated By: Deborah Marcero
Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020
Suitable for Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: collecting, wonder, friendship, loss, moving
Llewellyn was a collector. He collected things in jars.
Brief Synopsis: When a young collector finds a like-minded friend, they enjoy collecting together, until this new friend moves away.
Links to Resources:
- Do you collect anything? Draw a picture of something you’ve collected and share it with a friend;
- Collect a memory by writing about it or by photographing or drawing a picture of the event. If your memory involves a favorite food, try making the special food for your family or a friend;
- Ask an adult to add beans, marbles, coins, or buttons to a jar. Try to guess how many fit;
- Find a pen pal and exchange letters with them. Here’s a listing of organizations that encourage letters to people like astronauts, authors, seniors, kids in other countries, and more.
Why I Like this Book:
This heart-warming story features a young rabbit, Llewllyn, who collects ordinary items and some hard-to-capture natural wonders in jars. When he shares a jar filled with a gorgeous sunset with Evelyn, the two become fast friends. They collect so much together, and I think kids will love the spreads filled with illustrations of collected memories in jars.
But when Evelyn and her family move away, “Llewellyn’s heart felt like an empty jar.” Experiencing the loss of a friend or family member because of a move, change of schools, or even death is so difficult for kids. Especially in this year of loneliness and loss, I think this exploration of how Llewellyn and Evelyn deal with loss will comfort many kids, and adults. I won’t ruin the ending, but I will share that Llewllyn found a way to continue the friendship from afar, and even make a new friend.
From the stunning spreads with so many details in the many featured jars and the lyrical language, to the message of friendship and sharing, to showing kids how to overcome loss, In a Jar shines on so many levels and is deserving of the many starred reviews it has received.
A Note about Craft:
I confess that when I first saw the title of this book, I couldn’t imagine what it would be about, although the cover illustration of two rabbits surrounded by bluebells instantly caught my eye and beckoned me to read on. But collecting things in a jar is such a kid-relatable activity. The idea of collecting larger items, memories, or intangible things like rainbows, sounds, and the wind in a jar could also seem plausible to little ones. I can imagine them pouring over the illustrations containing jars of all shapes and sizes filled with all of the wonders of nature and more.
Upon reflection, I think Marcero also uses the jar as a metaphor for memory and emotions. Most poignantly, she compares Llewellyn’s heart to “an empty jar.” How beautiful is that!
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!