Anarchy in a Jar

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Jam Fables -- Favorite Children's Books About Jam

UncategorizedLaena McCarthy

Jam has been a theme in a lot of children's literature over the years. Jam somehow finds a way into our collective learning as a metaphor for family, community, eating and sharing. As a librarian and jam maker, I'm going to share some of my favorites with you. The most famous kid's book about jam is Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, which is one of my favorites. At aged 6,  my friends and I were such ardent fans, we would bring the exact same lunches to school as Frances and her friends, starting a cult of bread & jam (interesting side note is my bestie at the time was the daughter of Bread Alone's owner/founder and I have since become a jam maker, proving the deep influence of children's literature). I also love these other books, which you should pick up especially if you have kids to share them with, but also for adults who are amused by a good picture book.

Jam and Jelly is a sweet story with undertones of strength. Nellie is determined to buy her daughter a good winter coat and boots in order to get to school throughout the northern Michigan winter. She is adamant about coming up with the money because she often had to stay home as a child and feels that her "learning's got big holes in it" as a result. Nellie is nevertheless a wonderful teacher, showing Holly not only the importance of an education, but also teaching her about the various woodland animals and birds they encounter as they gather berries for jams to sell. Holly's father shows his love and support by building a roadside stand to display their wares. The lining pages offer recipes for all of the jams so readers may become inspired to do some berry picking of their own.

Our Raspberry Jam is about a girl who feasts on the wonderful raspberry jam that she and her family have made and remembers that she loves it because they made it together.

In Making Plum Jam Jackie is excited about his upcoming annual visit to his mother's eccentric, elderly aunts. Once there he doesn't mind the kerosene lamps and he ignores the fact that the three women have an ancient car and that Aunt Alice is a very slow, very bad driver. But he is shocked when the aunts raid the orchard of Farmer Wilson to steal plums. Caught by the farmer, the four barely escape. Jackie enjoys making jam from the stolen fruit but he also has a plan for defusing their neighbor's anger. During the night, he sneaks several jars of the finished product over to his house with a note. A few days later the aunts are surprised to find a whole basket of fresh plums on their front porch. The text is full of down-home sweetness and the aunts are drawn with an affection that won't be lost on readers.

Purple Delicious Blackberry Jam is about two upper-crust urchins, Muff and Freddy, discover how challenging jam-making can be when they try to revive an old-fashioned tradition. After talking Grandma into going berry-picking, they learn that preparing the treat involves thorny bushes, swarms of mosquitoes, green inchworms and--messiest of all--cooking blackberry juice and waiting for it to cool.

In Mim's Christmas Jam, the best part of Christmas is the whole family savoring Mim's belly-hum jam together. But this Christmas, Pap is far away in New York City, digging a hole for something called the subway, and his family is missing him something awful. Pap aches to be home, but the heartless foremen of his dig site have decided there will be no break, not even for Christmas. It looks like it's going to be one lonely holiday for everyone . . . until young Saraleen and Royce send their pap a gift that may just inspire a Christmas miracle.

In The Giant Jam Sandwich, four million wasps invade Itching Down, so the villagers make a giant jam sandwich to trap them.

Mary Had a Little Jam is full of silly kid's rhymes, like ""Mary had a little jam; she spread it on a waffle. And if she hadn't eaten ten, she wouldn't feel so awful."

In Calendar Mysteries #6: June Jam the sixth book of the Calendar Mysteries—a new early chapter book mystery series featuring the younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives—Bradley, Brian, Nate and Lucy are getting ready for Father's Day. They've decided that strawberry jam from the Pintos' strawberry patch would be a great gift. But something or someone has been taking bites out of the strawberrys! Polly the Pony, Pal and the dog, and the twins' brother Josh are all suspects. If the kids can't protect the strawberry patch from the mystery chomper, they might be in a real jam! Ron Roy's sixth Calendary Mysteries book has a fan Father's Day and all the sweetness of summer.