My first introduction to author and illustrator Vera Brosgol was her middle-grade graphic novel, Be Prepared.* I loved her autobiographical story about sleep away camp and was delighted to learn she had written a picture book.
In Memory Jars, which was released earlier in 2021, we meet a young girl named Freda who goes blueberry picking with her Gran. As she eats and eats, and EATS the berries, she begins to worry she won’t be able to consume all she has picked. Gran calms her by explaining they will make some blueberry jam as a way to save them now and enjoy them later. Freda is intrigued, and her curiosity is sparked.
What else could she save?
She begins with a chocolate chip cookie, and once she successfully saves it– she goes on to save all kinds of things in jars so that she will always have them. The story has a fantastical feel as she puts all sorts of things in jars that you would never *actually* put in jars. However, it leaves the reader thinking, “What are the things that I wish I could save– the objects, the feelings, the memories– and yes, even the people?”
This book sparked a lively discussion of things you could put in a jar… and things you couldn’t with a small group of children. A first-grader vehemently exclaimed you could NOT put some of the things in jars that Freda did, but then as more children added to the conversation, a “wait a minute” look of deeper understanding passed over his face. His look seemed to say, “Of course there are things you *can’t* put in jars… but if you *could*… what might those things be?” This realization lead to deeper– and even more excited — sharing about things we love and things we wish we could tightly hold forever. I will cherish this conversation.
This past school year was challenging, but the new year on the horizon holds promise for new connections, and lively conversations with children… many sparked by our read-aloud choices. What did you put in a jar for safekeeping at the end of the year, but are now ready to twist off the cap and freely share?
*Link to my Instagram post after I first read Be Prepared!