Title: Juna’s Jar
Author: Jane Bahk
Illustrator: Felicia Hoshino
Target Ages: 4-9
Genre: Magical Realism
Juna and her best friend, Hector, love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars. But then one day Hector unexpectedly moves away, and Juna is left wondering who will play with her. With the help of her special jar, Juna searches for her friend the world over. What Juna finds is that adventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places.
Juna’s family always has a large jar of kimchi in their fridge. After they finished eating all the kimchi, Juna sometimes got to keep the empty jar.
There was Hector asleep in his bed. And on the bedside table was the kimichi jar Juna has given him. Hector looked like he was having happy dreams.
Juna’s Jar is a sweet book about friendship, loss, and imagination. The jar, a symbol of Juna’s feelings of emptiness, is filled each day with something new—a plant, a fish, and a cricket.
During the night, she dreams of an adventure related to the item in the jar. Each adventure reveals Juna’s feelings of loss. When she imagines seeing Hector sleeping peacefully with a remembrance of her nearby, she gets the closure she needs. Using the jar adventure to reflect and to resolve her inner conflict is both inventive and effective.
Juna meets a new friend at the park who shares her love of nature. Her jar (and her heart) is empty no more.
Juna’s Jar can be used as a conversation starter for a class or child who has experienced a friend moving away. The book also encourages empathy and imagination.
Ideas for Extension Activities at Home or Lesson Plans for Teachers:
- Letting Writing: Write a letter from Juna to Hector or from Hector to Juna (or both). Younger children can write it as a class or a parent. Allow older children to write on their own. Teach the basic format of letter writing as well as encourage children to imagine what they would say to each other.
- Art or Writing: Allow the children to imagine another jar journey. Either draw a picture or write a story.
- Teacher’s Guide: Lee and Low has tons of activities, comprehension questions, and across the curriculum connections.