'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 5 March 2010

Review: Molly's Memory Jar

Title: Molly’s Memory Jar

Author: Norma Spaulding

Illustrator: Jacqui Grantford

Publisher: New Frontier, A$24.95RRP

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 9871921042355

Type: Picture Book

For ages: 3-8

About: I love it when book reviewers carry on about how a book made them cry or laugh out loud and then you rush out and buy the book and read it – and it doesn’t make you cry or laugh out loud. Sure, I understand that books are totally subjective… but there is still that modicum of disappointment that you wish you’d been more ‘moved’.

Molly’s Memory Jar moved me. Yes, it made me cry. Not just imaginary crying, but real tears falling. Not only because it is a story of tender loss, but a story of remembering – and how vital it is to honour the memories of our loved ones gone. Even, and sometimes most especially, when those loved ones are pets.

When little Molly loses her beautiful Golden Retriever and best friend, Lucy, she feels terribly sad and lonely, so when her dad suggests creating a memory jar for Lucy, Molly loves the idea.

Her dad asks her to come up with one good thing about her beloved friend and Molly’s memories flood back immediately. Every time Molly came home, Lucy would bring her ‘welcome home’ toys – most especially a little yellow ball with a smiley face.

As Molly recounts the memory, her father offers her a bag full of coloured glass balls and as a tear slides down her cheek, she chooses a yellow one to drop into her new memory jar. “…a joyful, yellow memory,” says her dad.

Lucy’s next memory is of the green grass Lucy rolled around on with her puppies, and so next she chooses a green ball to drop into her glass jar. “…a glowing, green memory,” says Dad.

The memories of her beloved pet continue to flood back as Lucy adds brightly coloured balls to the jar – red for her dog’s sloppy wet kisses, pink for the iced cupcakes she gobbled down that time, blue for that day she swam in the ocean.

As Molly recounts these wonderful memories, she smiles for the first time since Molly’s death, and as the jar fills to the brim, Molly is reminded that these special memories can be plucked from the jar, held and relived at any time – but most especially when she feels sad.

Jacqui Grantford has worked magic with this beautiful storyline – opening with slate grey illustrations and peppering the pages with shots of colour as the book unfolds. The moment a yellow glow appears on grey-scale Molly as she recounts her dog bringing her the yellow ball, will truly touch your heart. And as the glass jar fills with colour, so do the pages of this lustrous book – thick with an emotion that is breathtakingly real, not coated in schmaltz.

The marriage of Spaulding’s simple and clearly-written language and Grantford’s smile-inducing illustrations make for a heart-warming book – perfect for children who have lost a pet or who have suffered loss in any way – but also perfect for anyone who enjoys a memorable story that will leave a lasting impression long after the last page is turned.

Author website
Illustrator website

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