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When Lightning Comes in a Jar
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142403504, Paperback)Illustrator-author Patricia Polacco returns to Norman Rockwell-era Michigan for another autobiographical meditation, this time on the importance of passing "the lightning of our stories and our heritage into the jars of our children's minds."
A fondly remembered family reunion provides the sweeter-than-sweet backdrop for this picture book, as Polacco recalls how she and her cousins eagerly anticipated her Gramma helping them "catch lightning in a jar." The "lightning," of course, eventually comes thanks to some incarcerated insects, but is warmly preceded by all sorts of metaphorical strikes and flashes: Auntie Bertha's trademark meatloaf cooked with a hard-boiled egg in the middle ("like a giant eye"), watermelon-seed-spitting and croquet games (interrupted by "friendly quarrels about bent hoops, crooked wickets and wanting to take reshots"), and, most importantly, oh-so-many stories about an umbrella-loving rattlesnake, a seven-mile walk to a one-room schoolhouse, and a grandfather who "saved souls as a circuit preacher when he wasn't farming."
Polacco's nostalgic pencil and watercolor illustrations chronicle the day's frolics, all the way up to its buggy climax. She then leaves the Greatest Generation behind for an instructive final act, about a new reunion and "a new crop of children": "I'll send them home with full bellies, tired bones and flickering jars in their laps. Their hearts will be overflowing. Full of lightning, put there by folks who loved them even before they were born." (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)
A young girl describes the family reunion at her grandmother's house, from the food and baseball and photos to the flickering fireflies on the lawn.
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