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Memory Jars

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A young girl finds a clever way to keep her favorite things--and people--close to her forever.

Freda is devastated when she can't eat all the delicious blueberries she's picked. She has to wait a whole year before they're back, and she doesn't want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favorite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can't enjoy anything, and Freda realizes that some things are best saved as memories.

48 pages, Hardcover

First published May 25, 2021

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About the author

Vera Brosgol

22 books1,050 followers
Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. She received a diploma in Classical Animation from Sheridan College, and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation.

She has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic novel, Anya's Ghost, was published in 2011 by First Second Books.

She loves knitting, baking, and trying not to kill her plants. She hopes you are enjoying looking at her drawings!

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Community Reviews

5 stars
302 (26%)
4 stars
423 (37%)
3 stars
347 (30%)
2 stars
46 (4%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 205 reviews
Profile Image for Panda Incognito.
3,560 reviews60 followers
June 13, 2021
This picture book has a wonderful concept, but the execution is lacking for me. I deeply relate to this character's fear of change and desire to preserve her memories forever, but the book takes a fantastical turn partway through that I didn't expect. Instead of simply storing physical objects that represent her memories, this girl starts packing up the world around her, including putting loved ones in jars. This wasn't what I anticipated at all, and I found the ending concerning and unsatisfying.

I understand the intended metaphor, but I wish that this book had focused on real-world elements, and on the ways that people go overboard in hoarding special items to try to preserve their memories. The fantasy elements of this book distracted from the message, in my opinion, and even though I still appreciate the premise and illustrations, I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I had hoped.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,567 reviews197 followers
March 22, 2022
A cute little story about making blueberry jam and saving mementos takes a deliciously dark and bizarre turn.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
3,037 reviews36 followers
August 26, 2021
What would the world be like if we could preserved our memories in jars like we do for fruit in jams and jellies? Find out what happens to Freda when she attempts that feat.
I loved this because it was such an unusual and original idea for a picture book.
Could this be a 2022 Caldecott contender?
Profile Image for orangerful.
948 reviews47 followers
June 10, 2021
Such a kid feeling - I don't want anything to change ever - and learning that life is about change and memories. The same lesson as 'Inside Out' of how that hint of sadness makes memories all the sweeter.
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,670 reviews
June 9, 2021
I want to try the jam recipe in the back. The book was cute, but also a little strange. She put her friend in a jar? You mean she put her friend's memory in a special place? I can see how literal people are going to be annoyed.
Profile Image for Silvis Library.
200 reviews45 followers
July 16, 2021
The art in here was fun and beautiful. Freda learns a lesson about appreciating what you have in its free form in the time that you can have it. Nothing lasts forever, but you can appreciate what you love fully while its present.

I was afraid this was going to be another picture book that turns a bit sad. I was surprised at the humorous reality-defying moments, like the unmelting popsicle, and her putting her friend and grandmother into her jars.

This was a fun little story that could potentially make for a good craft as well.

Profile Image for Chance Lee.
1,338 reviews124 followers
July 23, 2021
Wow! I loved this one. Enchanting, as well as a little dark and upsetting, but with a jam recipe in the back!
Profile Image for Lupe.
1,237 reviews
August 21, 2021
Oh, I really enjoyed this book. It could be used to introduce daily journal writing but it’s so much more than that. Perfect for SEL lesson.
Profile Image for Just a Girl Fighting Censorship.
1,894 reviews113 followers
June 14, 2021
This book was a pleasant surprise. Aside from the charming art (as always with Vera Brosgol) the set up seemed pretty benign but boring compared to her other picture books. However the narrative became more and more fantastical. There was a great message here about living in the moment while treasuring memories, but I wonder if it is too subtle.

A cute blueberry jam recipe at the end is a nice touch.
Profile Image for Patricia N. McLaughlin.
Author 2 books20 followers
December 16, 2021
Freda’s fears of change and loss understandably drive her hoarding compulsion, but Brosgol pushes the concept too far when fantasy gets mixed up with reality, leaving readers to wonder whether Freda needs treatment for psychosis, especially when Jack remains jarred like Soylent jam.
Profile Image for Jessica.
527 reviews43 followers
July 28, 2021
this is like the cuddlier version of "I don't want you to leave so I'm keeping you in a jar in the basement"
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,815 reviews227 followers
October 2, 2021
3.5 stars

This was a little bit cute and a whole lot creepy! That unexpected dichotomy adds a pleasant plot tension, but that's all you get. There is no additional plot to keep this story afloat. The art is fine. We did enjoy the two-page spread of all Freda's memory jars, it was fun to find the different things she had "saved."

The blueberry jam recipe at the end was another fun surprise - there is no pectin! just blueberries, sugar, lemon juice. It must make a very loose "jam"? Has anyone tried it?
Profile Image for Sandy Brehl.
Author 8 books131 followers
June 8, 2021
So much fun and heart in this new picture book about the effort to preserve special moments, relationships, favorites, and love from the point of view of a young child.
This lively, love, circle-ish story should be shared, and paired with IN A JAR by Deborah Marcero.
Profile Image for Mia.
497 reviews3 followers
June 10, 2021
Cute little story about a girl who wants to bottle up the things she loves so she can keep them forever--her fresh blueberries, a chocolate chip cookie, the neighborhood cat, a new stuffed animal, and even her grandmother to name a few. Nice lesson about how you can't have your cake and eat it too. The storyline seemed a little jagged and I wondered a few times if I had missed a page (I hadn't). But overall, a cute idea. Recommend.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,464 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2021
We liked the jam concept and the remembering of the main character's grandpa, but when she started bottling up people, it got a little weird and my son didn't like it. He gave it a shake of the head when we were done.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,096 reviews26 followers
August 26, 2021
Funnily enough the first time we read this was right after blueberry picking! That was a fun surprise since I hadn’t looked at it before. No jam for us though since I wanted to eat them all.
It’s really between 3 and 4 stars for me - I was really thrown by the fantasy element the first time I read it and wished the author had resolved the kid just putting her best friend in a jar, etc 😂 But upon reading it again, and remembering how much i loved Leave Me Alone, I appreciated the silliness of it and the whimsy a little more. Very similar to “In A Jar” which I loved, but this is a little more comedic.
Profile Image for Racheal.
1,016 reviews83 followers
September 8, 2021
Dang, I really love some of Vera Brosgol's books (Anya's Ghost, Leave Me Alone!) and then she has some real head scratchers like this one and The Little Guys. I'm giving it 3 stars for the usual fantastic illustrations and for the berry picking nostalgia, but I thought the actual story was a bit of a mess.
Profile Image for Anne.
546 reviews6 followers
December 1, 2021
I'm not sure if I gave this four stars simply because I am a hoarder and I love the idea of memory jars or because of the book itself. It's a cute idea but it just slightly missed the mark for me in differentiating between the things we should keep as memories and the experiences we should take out and enjoy in the moment.
Profile Image for Sarah Mullen.
40 reviews8 followers
March 19, 2023
Read this book to the kids I nanny tonight before bed & genuinely couldn’t help but crying. It’s kind of wild & healing to be an adult reading children’s books that feel special & sweet. Seriously, might not ever shut up about this one!
Profile Image for Neha Thakkar .
421 reviews10 followers
August 11, 2021
Cute! Would be great for living in the moment, gratitude, grandparents’ day, or memory writing lessons. What would put in a jar to remember forever?
Profile Image for Peacegal.
10.2k reviews94 followers
June 17, 2021
3.5 stars-- Delightful illustrations in this unusual story of a girl who hopes to preserve all of her memories "just so." Things take a fantasy turn when she starts storing everything--including people--in keepsake jars. The message is that nothing ever stays the same, but our memories keep things for us.
7,503 reviews28 followers
August 21, 2021
The artwork is amazing. So much to study on each page. Freda wants to save all of her memories and not let anything change. She thinks about her grandma making blueberry jam each year and shares about it bringing memories of Freda's grandfather. She decides to save everything she loves in glass jars too. An interesting concept to discuss remembering things that are important. Could segue into a writing assignment or introducing journaling. However, it's much larger than that and can help young readers find meaning as they process their lives.
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,386 reviews26 followers
August 6, 2021
Freda loves spending time with her Gran, picking blueberries and she's thrilled when Gran tells her they don't have to eat them all at once, they can preserve them in jars and take some out whenever they want. Preserving seems pretty great to Freda who finds a host of items she'd like to jar and keep for later, from a warm cookie, to a pristine pair of sneakers, to her best friend about to move away. Later, Freda even persuades Gran to hop in a jar, but happily when Freda tastes the blueberry jam on toast she remembers and Gran reappears while a host of other memories flood back.
This metaphorical, problem-solving story may be a head-scratcher for many kids as the preservative role of memory isn't fully explained. Adult readers should be prepared to both explain how the boy fits in the jar and to find some alarming items squirreled away in jars.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 205 reviews

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