Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol

Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol (9781250314871)

When Freda goes blueberry picking with her Gran, she tries to eat all of the blueberries right away. Even though the blueberries are best when first picked, Freda isn’t able to eat them all. Her Gran reminds Freda that she makes the blueberries into jam to preserve them so they can be enjoyed longer. That gave Freda an idea! She started saving everything she wanted to keep fresh in jars. She kept a warm cookie, unscuffed sneakers, an unmelted popsicle, flowers, birds’ eggs, and much more. She even put her best friend in a jar before he could move away. She saved music, rainbows, clouds, stars and the moon. Freda had saved all of her favorite things, except one. When Gran got into the jar, Freda’s world was very quiet. That’s when she tried some of the blueberry jam, which reminded her of summer, friendship, her grandparents and much more. Freda remembered it all.

This picture book looks at our desire to stop things where they are and not allow them to change. Freda’s ability to jar everything she loves is both marvelously creepy but also immensely satisfying, at first. Brosgol allows the story to go on until the world becomes empty and silent around Freda. It isn’t until then that her memories of her friends and family return and refill her world. Still, Brosgol hints at the end that it may not quite be over yet.

The illustrations capture the warmth of Freda’s life and her connection to her grandmother. The shadows enter Freda’s world as she surrounds herself with jars of all of her favorite things, basically in suspended animation. The jars fill her space with a cold glass emptiness where you can only see shadows inside of them. It’s very effective and a relief to return to the brighter colors again.

A book that shows us all why we need to let life happen rather than clinging too tight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Roaring Brook Press.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today by Rachel Piercey

Cover image for If You Go Down to the Woods Today.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today by Rachel Piercey, illustrated by Freya Hartas (9781419751585)

Enter a woodsy world full of animal characters in this picture book that invites children to find things in the busy and bustling images. Bear brings readers to his home in the woods. The first images focus on spring in the woods with green grass, flowers and bird nests. Readers then get a glimpse of each animal’s home in the woods, including burrows, nests, and trees. Youngsters head to school, and bunny celebrates a birthday underground. Summer arrives with Field Day, the beauty of life in the treetops, swimming, picnics and even a play. Autumn comes with rainy days, art and campfires. Then finally, winter brings icy sports, a winter feast and the sleepiness of hibernation.

Each of the double-page illustrations is accompanied with a poem that speaks to that season and what is happening on the pages. The rhymes are jaunty and add to the fun of the book. Then there is a list of items to spot that asks readers to look very closely at the illustrations before them. It’s a woodsy and outdoor version of Waldo.

The illustrations are a pure joy and full of small elements of charm. Flowers, grass, falling leaves, roots, berries and more fill the pages with the season. The busy illustrations show a community of creatures happily living together in the woods filled with a warm coziness and acceptance of one another.

A perfect book to curl up with and explore. This would make an ideal book to take on a summer road trip. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Magic Cat.