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.