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When Lightning Comes in a Jar
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When Lightning Comes in a Jar

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  472 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
It's family reunion time! Trisha and her cousins can hardly wait to see one another again. They can't decide what they like best: the great feast (with zillions of meatloafs and gazillions of Jell-O salads), the softball game, the storytelling . . . the yearly rituals go on and on. But this year, Gramma has a new surprise in store: She promises to teach the grandchildren t ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published June 3rd 2002 by Philomel Books (first published June 2002)
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Lisa Vegan
Yes, when I was a young girl, down at my cousins’ house (about 40 minutes drive away) I remember on at least one occasion catching lightning in a jar in their backyard. So, I knew what to expect from this book.

I really loved all the illustrations of the dog in this book; I haven’t seen Polacco illustrate that many dogs. I enjoyed all the illustrations, including the real photos placed with them.

This is a lovely story about a close, multigenerational family at an annual family reunion. The close
Jul 04, 2014 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Lovely story that celebrates family traditions and coming together to share stories, fun and good food. Once again, Patricia Polacco shares a bit of her family history with a fictionalized story that was inspired by her own experiences. The narrative and illustrations are typical for her style and while I didn't get as choked up by this story as I have with some of her other tales, it's certainly a heart-warming book to read aloud with children.

Our daughter guessed from the very beginning what
Courtney Dyer
Known for using her own family members as characters for her books, Polacco brings us another heartwarming recollection from her childhood filled with nostalgia that is sure to leave her readers longing for family togetherness.

Polacco recounts the traditional events of her annual family reunion as she remembers it as a child- tables filled with Jell-O and meatloaf, the baseball game, croquet, bag races, watermelon seed spitting contests, rides on Grampa’s draft horse, getting measured, looking
Trisha is thrilled that it's time for a family reunion which will give her a chance to see her cousins. Any readers who've been to their own family reunions will recognize some common elements--abundant food with every aunt bringing her favorite version of certain dishes, lots of games, paging through the family photo albums, and the elders trying to top each other with wild stories from their younger days. Trisha's grandmother also has a special treat for the youngsters, closing out the evening ...more
Lexus Beedy
Feb 26, 2015 Lexus Beedy rated it really liked it
Personal Reaction:
I really enjoyed reading this book and its moral lesson. We often get caught up in our own lives and should spend more time with the people that matter to us and the traditions we will want to someday share with our own children. I think children will find this book engaging and will love the traditions activity.

This book was Purpose:
This book would be appropriate for a read aloud of children 1st-3rd graders.
This book has a large emphasis on the importance of family and tradi
Kristina Befort
Feb 19, 2015 Kristina Befort rated it it was amazing
This book is about a young girl and her family reunion. She loves when her family comes to visit, and she loves spending time with her cousins. Her aunts and her grandma also tell stories about their childhoods, and the little girl loves to hear these stories. The grandma also introduces the little girl to lightning in a jar, and her and all of her cousins spend time capturing fireflies, or the lightning in a jar. At the end of the book, the little girl becomes a grandmother, and tells her own g ...more
Sarah Nottingham
Feb 26, 2015 Sarah Nottingham rated it it was amazing
When Lightning Comes in a Jar by Patricia Polacco, tells the story of the relationship between a little girl and her grandmother, and their growing bond during a family reunion. The little girl, Tricia, begins her journey when her extended family comes to visit her house for the annual family reunion. To further build up the little girl's excitement about the family reunion, the grandmother proclaims “And we might catch lightning in a jar”. This proclamation engulfs the little girls imagination, ...more
Sarah Hannon
Personal response- This is a wonderfully told and illustrated book by Patricia Polacco. I liked how the story was about a family who was getting together for a family reunion. It reminded me of when I have family reunions and I look forward to seeing everyone in my extended family and playing games and sharing stories. The illustrations also help push the story along. Examples of this include when the family wants to play croquet and their is the family illustrated playing croquet and when the f ...more
Olivia Lagore
Patricia Polacco tells the story of he old family picnics that she and all her relatives used to have each year - and still do to this day. She describes how the whole family, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, great aunts and great uncles, everyone would gather on her grandmothers farm and eat, paly games, tell stories, and, when the last of the light had left, catch lighting (fireflies) and put them all in a jar.
The book gives off a soothing, warm feeling, reminding me of my own visits t
Nicole Marzan
Sep 29, 2014 Nicole Marzan rated it really liked it
When Lightning Comes in a Jar is about a young girl named Trisha and her family reunion. While Trisha does fun activities with her family (story-telling, playing croquet, eating jell-o), she can't stop wondering how her Gramma plans on catching lightning in a jar.

I was first interested in the cover of the book-- Trisha is seen standing on the porch looking intrigued. After reading the book and looking at the pictures, I enjoyed how accurate the illustrator portrayed a family reunion. The pictur
Sep 23, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
Tricia could not be more excited for her family reunion! This year it is being held at her house instead of Grandma's. Tricia cant decide what she is most excited for, all the jellos shaking on he table, the many different aunt's meatloaf recipes, seeing all of her family or Grandma's stories. Then Grandma reveals that she will teach them all how to catch lightning in a jar! Tricia has no idea what this means and cant hardly wait to find out!
Even though children of all ages would love to hear th
Lesley Dahlseng
Dec 10, 2013 Lesley Dahlseng rated it it was ok
It is time for the family reunion! Patricia Polacco sets the scene with loaded tables of Jell-0 and meatloaf, watched by children with eager eyes and big appetites. The fun continues with baseball games, bag races, croquet, horse rides and story time. The most anticipated event, however, is when Gramma finally shows the children how to catch lightning in a jar.

Like: If reunions are a fond tradition in your family, then this story will touch your heart. Polacco covers all the excitements from a
Yasmin Gomez Geng
Patricia Polacco writes a great deal about family-related manners. In this book, she writes about her family reunion and how she feels about all the games and family members she meets. She also writes about the great stories that she hears from all of her family members.
In particular, the main character loves how her grandma teaches her how to catch fireflies in a jar.

Grade: 1st Grade until 4th Grade
Topic: Nature, Bugs, Family
Oct 31, 2011 lprater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picture Story Book: When Lightning Comes in a Jar is a heartwarming story about family and the fun people of all generations have during a family reunion. Polacco's book, based on personal experiences, captured my interest immediately as I pulled the book from the library shelf and simply turned the pages. Details in the story such as the anticipation of seeing cousins, the mounds of food, baseball and croquet brought back many personal memories for me as I remembered spending annual weekends at ...more
May 26, 2014 Christy rated it it was amazing
It's family reunion time! Trisha and her cousins can hardly wait to see one another again. They can't decide what they like best: the great feast (with zillions of meatloafs and gazillions of Jell-O salads), the softball game, the storytelling . . . the yearly rituals go on and on. But this year, Gramma has a new surprise in store: She promises to teach the grandchildren
Kaylee Bostick
This story is a story about tradition. A little girl goes to a family reunion and talks about all of the traditions that take place. She grows up to find that she is responsible for keeping the traditions alive. I might use this in my classroom as a mentor text because some students might relate to this.
Nicole Otting
Apr 12, 2016 Nicole Otting rated it really liked it
A great story of traditions and family gatherings. My students and I used this book to talk about theme as we review some things we've learned this year. I've got some other ideas for next year on how to use this book.
Jul 17, 2008 Erinn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: First - Fourth
Recommended to Erinn by: Well known author
Shelves: picturebooks
Once again using her own family as characters, Patricia Polocco shares a tale about a young girl waiting for her relatives to arrive for the family reunion. Polocco describes the relatives, the food, and the various rituals that are part of the annual family gathering. In addition, she describes how the family enjoys catching fireflies in a jar. Polocco has included actual photographs of her own family as part of the book.

It is rewarding to know that such a gifted author comes from Union City,
Sarah Paul
Apr 16, 2013 Sarah Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-aloud, top-20
Title: When Lightning Comes in a Jar
Author: Patricia Polacco
Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Publisher: Philomel Books
Date: 2002
Genre: fiction

This book is a story about a young girl names Tricia who loves to be outdoors and spend time with her family. At a family reunion, her grandmother teachers her and her relatives how to "catch lightning in a jar" and this becomes a favorite activity. Children will be able to relate to this story as they think about memories they have with the people who they ar
Feb 19, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
A sweet capture of multi-generational family reunions. I like how she kept the key characters in the same outfits over time for easy recognition.
Fireflies, lightning, stories, family, tradition, oral storytelling
Multiple connections to content to your own story.
Sep 06, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-school-2016
I don't think a Patricia Polacco book could ever be anything other than a 5 star book!
A McCavitt
Dec 30, 2015 A McCavitt rated it it was amazing
Such a heart warming story about a family and their wonderful family reunion traditions.
Sep 05, 2015 Candice rated it it was amazing
I loved this book about the magic of family reunions. It reminds me of my own.
Dana Pressnell
Catching lightning bugs, family reunions, telling stories
Mar 22, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
Fun read for children; good times.
Janelle Fenn
I love this book!! Patricia Polacco is my favorite childrens author! And probably just my favorite author over all! Her stories are mostly all real events that have happened in her life and they always have a good moral to them! This book in particular has hidden allusions in it's illustrations! That's why i love it so much! (she also does all her own illustrations!) She puts little bits and pieces of Norman Rockwell's (My favorite artist EVER!) paintings throughout the story! I just loved the c ...more
Linda Lipko
Oct 25, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
I set the goal of reading all of Polacco's books by the end of 2014. This one is a simple tale of the wonderment of a family reunion. The joyous images of laughter, sharing stories, playing games and delighting in the sheer wonderment of being together, made me smile!

What a very talented author and illustrator who can make a simple thing like catching fireflies a special occasion.
Jun 17, 2011 Jackie rated it really liked it
Another down-home, heartwarming, nostaglic offering from Patricia Polacco...When Lighning Comes in a Jar conjures up memories about a simple, carefree time. A time when magical fireflies lit the night air and it was beyond belief that those same lightning bugs could be harnessed in a jar.

Used for "You Light Up My Night, Firefly" Storytime: June, 2011.
Sep 04, 2010 Angela rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about family reunions and the fun things that happen at them. It is heartwarming and full of memories, past and present. Young children will keep guessing how the book ends as they question how lighting is caught in a jar. I love Patricia Polacco. Her stories are always fun, very down to Earth, quite and cozy, and always candid.
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