Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Llewellyn does not like to feel afraid or sad, angry, lonely, or embarrassed. And so he comes up with a brilliant plan: he tucks each of his feelings into jars and hides them away where they won’t bother him anymore. But when he gets in trouble in class, Llewellyn finds he needs to put away excitement too. And when joy is quickly followed by disappointment, he decides to get rid of joy as well. After a while, Llewellyn walks around not feeling much of anything at all. And what happens when his emotions refuse to be bottled up any longer?

In this richly illustrated and universally relatable picture book, Llewellyn soon discovers that life is more colorful when he sets his emotions free. And only then, by facing and embracing each of his feelings, is he finally able to let them go.

All emotions are valuable.

Once again, I was blown away by Ms. Marcero’s ability to make a complex topic relatable and entertaining for small children. Emotional intelligence is a difficult but critical skill to learn. She managed to make it sound like one of the greatest adventures anyone could experience. It takes smooth writing to accomplish that, so my interest in reading more of her work has only deepened now that I’ve read two of her tales.

The only thing holding this picture book back from receiving a five-star rating from me had to do with how little time it spent explaining what to do with feelings that seem too big or overwhelming to handle. Honestly, this is something that even adults struggle with sometimes, and it can be even tougher for kids. The narrator did such a spectacular job with every other aspect of the topic. I would have happily gone with a perfect rating if they’d gone into the same amount of detail with this one.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that carefully wove the fantasy elements of the plot in with the author’s messages about the importance of emotions and how she thinks children should handle them. It wasn’t always easy for me to pick out where one of these themes ended and the other began. They were so well-suited for each other that I was nothing but pleased to see it written that way.

This is the sequel to In a Jar. I recommend reading this series in order because the narrator made some lovely references to previous scenes that can only be understood by readers who have already experienced them.

Out of a Jar was a wonderful starting place for talking about difficult emotions.

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