Since the release of Juna’s Jar, editor Jessica Echeverria has kindly kept me updated with all the wonderful reviews.
Jane Bahk’s ‘Juna’s Jar,’ and More
“Juna’s Jar,” written by Jane Bahk and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino, depicts a single disappointment big enough to be heartbreaking: Little Juna’s friend Hector moves away suddenly, and she is denied even a chance to say goodbye. And while the ending, with its suggestion of a new friend for Juna, may be predictable for adult readers, young children will probably find it pleasing. In Hoshino’s lyrical and delicately detailed watercolor illustrations, Juna is adorable, her facial expressions matching the honest emotion of the text. The role played by the book’s title object is compelling as well, and you might want to prepare for a first reading to a child by having a jar of similar size and shape on hand.
A girl named Juna gets significant mileage—in more ways than one—out of an empty jar of kimchi in Bahk’s debut, which won the publisher’s New Voices Award. Juna is distraught after her friend Hector moves away suddenly; to cheer her up, her brother gets her a small fish, which she keeps in her jar. At night, “when everyone else was asleep,” Juna joins the fish on an imaginary underwater journey, and in the morning, “Juna’s fish had grown so big its mouth nearly touched its tail.” This surprising development sets the state for subsequent “was it really just a dream?” adventures, which eventually let Juna make peace with Hector’s absence.
A seemingly ordinary kimchi jar is anything but in this gentle tale of old friends and new. Best friends Juna and Hector collect rocks and bugs in her family’s empty kimchi jars. One day, Juna goes to Hector’s apartment only to learn from his abuela that his parents came and took him to live with them far away. To cheer her up, Juna’s brother buys her a fish to place in the empty kimchi jar. That night, she dreams of questing underwater for Hector, only to awaken to find her pet has, remarkably, grown too big for its home. She turns the now-empty jar into a terrarium with a small bean plant, and that night she imagines she is looking for Hector through a rain forest. This pattern is repeated again with a cricket, and then finally Juna is able to come to terms with Hector’s absence and is emotionally ready to make another friend. The steady narrative repetition as Juna sleeps and seeks offers a reassuring pattern for children who might be missing their own Hectors.
Hoshino’s delightful detail-filled paintings of Juna’s nighttime adventures show smiling sea creatures, sloths, monkeys and crocodiles, and a city alive with activity, illuminated by vehicle headlights “that lit up the hill like a string of holiday lights.” Use this title in preschool storytimes or in the classroom to stimulate leaps of imagination.
(4 / 5)
This book is fun and I like it because I like to think about Juna when the things in her jar get so big. She goes into her jar in her dreams and goes into the sea and into a jungle. The pictures are so nice and Juna is really nice too and so is her big brother because he likes to do nice things for her to cheer her up.
Reviewed by Liesel, Age 4
It’s Natural: Science Picture Books for Storytime │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go
Juna and her best friend Hector have many adventures in the park until he unexpectedly moves away. She still has the kimchi jar that they used for their collections, but who will play with her? Juna is never short on imagination, and her dreams take her on beautiful journeys that lead to friends in unexpected places.
“Juna’s Jar” is described as a child’s exploration of the healing powers of imagination in understanding unexplained loss of a dear friend. Poignant pastel illustrations express the hope, sadness, and dreams of this young girl who is savoring a remembered friendship while growing towards a bright future.
Little Juna lives in a multicultural diverse world. She eats kimchi, she plays with little Hector and speaks a little Spanish to Hector’s abuelita. But when she gets a jar, oh the magical fun she has with it! This 33 page GEM is delightful. You’d never believe how much fun you can have with such an ordinary object. This book is sure to become your favorite too. Now to find a kimchi jar!
A charming young heroine’ss imagination helps her deal with her best friend leaving the neighborhood.
Four API Children’s Books Reaffirm the Power of Imagination
With the help of her older brother Minho, Juna uses her empty kimchi jar to go on unexpected adventures and find a friend. Hoshino’s illustrations convey Juna’s inner and outer worlds beautifully, from the range of emotions on Juna’s expressive face to the playful settings of the wondrous adventures that she embarks on during the night. Kids will appreciate how Juna’s able to use her imagination on her quest, as well as the many ways that she’s able to use her empty jar.
When her best friend, Hector, moves away, intrepid young Juna gathers things from nature to put in her jar, just like she used to do with Hector. But every attempt she makes, the fish, the plant, the cricket all grow too big for the jar, just like her friendship with Hector. This girl’s dreamlike imagination runs wild as she ventures to find her friend; muted colors and her big, welcoming face giving the story a cutesy yet modern vibe. In her search for companionship, Juna shows just how much heart she really has. Ages five and up.
Losing a best friend is never easy, especially when there isn’t a chance to say good-bye. Juna and Hector use her empty kimchi jars to collect rocks and bugs, but when Hector suddenly moves far away, Juna’s jar seems especially bare. Her brother tries to help by getting her a fish to keep in the jar, and then, that night, Juna dreams of diving into the ocean and searching for Hector. The next night, a similar dream, set in a rain forest, involves Juna’s brother giving her a bean plant to fill the jar. On the third night, they put a cricket in the jar, and Juna dreams of riding it out of the city and onto Hector’s windowsill. Seeing him sleeping soundly reassures Juna and helps her open up to making a new friend. The story’s fantastical qualities are charmingly conveyed by the expressive pastel-watercolor illustrations. Bahk’s comforting picture-book debut, effortlessly multicultural, sparkles with the promise of imagination and friendship.
The Year in Books: Asian America’s Must-Reads of 2014
A beautifully illustrated children’s picture book, Juna’s Jar tells the story of Juna and her best friend, Hector, who love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars.