In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

In 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: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Here’s a marvelous picture book, charmingly written and beautifully illustrated, about the power of memory and the magic of friendship.

Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?

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One of my favorite parts of this picture book was seeing all of the things Llewellyn thought to collect. Some of them were spectacular like a sunset that was the color of a tart cherry syrup. Feathers and heart-shaped stones were among his more ordinary picks, although his enthusiasm for them was just as contagious. He somehow managed to find moments of beauty no matter where he was or what he was currently doing, and that made me smile.

This was such a gentle and life-affirming read. I appreciated the way the author provided a little bit of tension in the plot to keep everyone interested while also writing for such a tender age group. It was easy to relax and lose myself in the storyline. No matter what might happen to Llewellyn and Evelyn next, I couldn’t wait to find out how they reacted to it or what marvellous twists might still be ahead in their journey.

I adored the messages about friendship and staying in touch when a loved one moves far away. They were simple enough for a child to understand at first glance but contained plenty of thought-provoking content for adults as well. This is the sort of fantasy that can so easily seep into our world in all sorts of wonderfully realistic ways. No one here on Earth can literally capture a sunset in a jar, but we can all find creative ways to reach out to people we care about. It was delightful to compare the magic of human connection to the types of magic these characters used to fill their jars with all sorts of incredible moments.

In a Jar filled my heart with joy. I can’t recommend it highly enough.