Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol

Published: 25th May 2021 Goodreads badge
Roaring Brook Press
Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

 A young girl finds a clever way to keep her favourite things–and people–close to her forever.

Freda is devastated when she can’t eat all the delicious blueberries she’s picked. She has to wait a whole year before they’re back, and she doesn’t want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favourite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can’t enjoy anything, and Freda realises that some things are best saved as memories.

This was a surprising book because what I thought was going to be a fun book about wanting to keep all the special things in jars, it actually manages to have a great lesson at the end. There isn’t a great focus on the lesson, it wraps up fairly quickly, but there’s enough there to provide a satisfying conclusion.

It is certainly a relatable feeling wanting to capture all the good things and experiences and look back on them again and again but Brosgol shows us that if that were possible, not only does it mean others can’t enjoy them, but if you enjoy it all the time the magic of those moments is lost a little too. You even see from a few of Brosgol’s illustrations that Freda’s desire to capture all the good things means she actually never gets to enjoy them. Unplayed with toys, uneaten lollies, and other pleasurable experiences aren’t actually being enjoyed because they are being safeguarded in a jar.

The full page illustrations are detailed and colourful, reflecting the accompanying text on the page. We see Freda’ story play out and Brosgol shows us each of Freda’s preservations in colourful images. There is a sense of magical realism because of course you can’t put the moon and the stars in a jar anymore than you could a cloud or your friend, but it doesn’t take away from the story as we follow Freda on her mission.

There is a sense of not wanting things to change, and if it was kept in a jar it will remain just as it was, but seeing Freda realise that once she has captured everything in a jar it isn’t as wonderful as she thinks is a great lesson. It’s a great book to help kids understand fleeting moments like special occasions, good moments and other enjoyable things don’t always last, and helping them to see that even if the moment has past that the memory of the good times and the special feelings still remains and gives them something to look forward to.

You can purchase Memory Jars via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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