When Lightning Comes In A Jar

When Lightning Comes In A Jar

3.0 2
by Patricia Polacco
     
 

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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

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Overview

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 to catch lightning in a jar. Lightning in a jar! Trisha can't wait to find out what she means. It's a secret she will pass down to her own grandchildren one day, along with the family stories handed down with love through all the generations.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A warm story of bridging the generation gap through heritage and togetherness. (Kirkus Reviews)
bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
Join Patricia Polacco's family reunion! The beloved author of autobiographical works like Betty Doll and Mrs. Mack serves up summertime memories in this heartwarming book about family and storytelling.

Trisha can barely contain herself as the family makes its way to her house for a reunion. She remembers the previous gathering at her Gramma's, when young Trisha's head was filled with thoughts of Jell-O salads, baseball games, and catching "lightning in a jar." At that long-ago get-together, the day's activities culminated in exciting stories about rattlesnakes and riding in new "motorcars," told by her Gramma and aunties. Afterward, empty jars were brought out, and Gramma recited a magical poem that seemed to release zillions of fireflies -- the lightning -- for everyone to capture. Years later, as the family arrives, the older Trisha relishes the chance to pass along these cherished memories and traditions to a new generation.

Another spirit-stirring book from a master storyteller, When Lightning Comes in a Jar sheds a warm glow on the meaning of family. Polacco's skill in putting home where the heart is will have children asking about their own family's stories, especially to grandparents, with whom her book is ideal for sharing. An excellent starter for planning your own family reunions or even a photo album, this book shows that traditions are never too late to begin. (Matt Warner)

Children's Literature
Inspired by her own family reunion, Polacco weaves a magical story of anticipation and tradition. Trisha is anxiously awaiting the arrival of dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Grandma reassures Trisha that all the old rituals will be the same, but this year she promises a new treat—lightening in a jar. Sure enough, there are gazillions of Jell-O salads, zillions of meatloafs, and lots of cakes and pies. Next comes baseball, croquet, seed-spitting contests, and draft horse rides. Children are measured and then the aunties fetch the old photo albums. They try to outdo each other with fantastic memories and the children are mesmerized. They tell of rides in newfangled motorcar contraptions and of the first flying machine in the state that spews smoke and looks like a giant dragonfly. With each event Trisha awaits the promise of lightening in a jar, but the magic does not happen until the last rays of the sun leave the grass. As canning jars are brought out, Grandma touches the grass and chants "Stars will rise from earth below, in these hands their light will glow." The night sky is filled with lightening bugs! Delighted with the magic, the children grow up and continue all the traditions for their children. This is a heart-warming story set with nostalgic watercolor drawings that will surely inspire readers to capture and hold on to family traditions. 2002, Philomel Books,
— Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-As the adult Trisha awaits the arrival of relatives for the first family reunion at her home, she looks back on one such event at Gramma's house when she was a child. Anticipation of the arrival of aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins is almost too much for the young girl to bear. Everything is going to be just like in previous years, Trish reassures herself with every question to Gramma: "Will there be Jell-O like there always is baseball and croquet bag races And will you tell stories ?" The answer is "yes" to every question, except the telling of the stories. Gramma's reply to that is: "Might. And we might catch lightning in a jar." This was something new. With her usual narrative flair Polacco weaves a story of family remembrances and traditions. Double-page spreads show children, large as life, running barefoot throughout the long day and chasing fireflies into the night. The watercolor-and-pencil artwork captures the beauty of a midnight-blue sky illuminated by moonlight and the poignancy of treasured moments. The story comes full circle back to Trisha's present-day reunion, showing "a new crop of children" and a new generation of storytellers.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tradition abounds in this tale of a Michigan family reunion. The narrator recollects a childhood gathering in detail, including spirited descriptions of bag races, storytelling, and Jell-O. After Gramma reveals the mystery of catching lightning in a jar, the narration shifts to the present, demonstrating how ritual is passed through the generations. The author herself is pictured in the center of the new generation's gathering, telling stories-how fitting-and teaching how to catch lightning in a jar. Polacco (Mr. Lincoln's Way, 2001, etc.) combines enthusiastic written imagery with effective watercolor-and-pencil illustrations to create a mood of excitement. A background of cool blues and greens in this rural setting contrasts with the bright, vibrant characters. The action-packed scenes are full of animated expressions and lively movement. Although the upbeat tone is primarily inspired by the illustrations, the large amount of text, and its lack of rhyme, suggests older readers. Though sentimental at times, this is a warm story of bridging the generation gap through heritage and togetherness-and it's fun to see the author illustrate herself as an adult. (Picture book. 6-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399231643
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
06/28/2002
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
622,955
Product dimensions:
8.87(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.37(d)
Lexile:
540L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

"I was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1944. Soon after my birth I lived in Williamston, Michigan and then moved onto my grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan.

"I lived on the farm with my mom and Grandparents until 1949. That is when my Babushka (my grandmother) died and we prepared to move away from Michigan. I must say that living on that little farm with them was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad. In both households I was the apple of my grandparents' eyes! I would say that these relationships with my grandparents have most definitely influenced my life and my work. You probably have noticed that in almost every book that I write there is a very young person who is interacting with an elderly person. Personally, I feel that this is the most valuable experience of my life....having the wonder of knowing both children and elderly people.

"The respect that I learned as a very young person certainly carried over into my life in later years. I have always like hearing stories from these folks. My genuine curiosity for the wonder of living a very long life prepared me to accept the declining years of my own parents.

"To get back to the farm in Union City...this place was so magical to me that I have never forgotten it! This was the place where I heard such wonderful stories told...this was the place that a real meteor fell into our font yard...that very meteorite is now our family headstone in the graveyard here in Union City.

"Did I tell you that I now live in Union City? This is after living in Oakland, California for almost 37 years. But, you see, every year I'd come back to Michigan to see my Dad and family.

"Anyway...

"In 1949 we left the farm to move, first to Coral Gables, Florida. I lived there with my Mom and my brother, Richard, for almost 3 years. Then we moved to Oakland, California. I remained there for most of my young life on into my adulthood. We lived on Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District. What I loved the most about this neighborhood is that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike.

"It is on Ocean View that I met my best friend, Stewart Grinnell Washington. We are best friends to this day! He has a younger brother, Winston and three sisters; Jackie, Terry and Robin. When I was a student in elementary school I wasn't a very good student. I had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn't! I thought I was dumb. I didn't like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn't do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero's, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact, most learning disabled children are actually GENIUSES! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

"I went on to University, majored in Fine Art, then went on to do a graduate degree and even ended up with a Ph.D. in Art History. For a time I restored ancient pieces of art for museums. I eventually became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and devoted much of my days to their education and upbringing.

"I did not start writing children's books until I was 41 years old. Mind you the "art" has always been there for me most of my life. Apparently one of the symptoms of my disability in academics is the ability of draw very, very well. So drawing, painting and sculpture has always been a part of my life even before I started illustrating my books. The books were quite a surprise, really. Mind you, I came from a family of incredible storytellers. My mother's people were from the Ukraine and Russia...my father's people were from Ireland. My extended family,(Stewart's family) were from the bayous of Louisiana...also great story tellers. When you are raised on HEARING stories.....NOT SEEING THEM, you become very good at telling stories yourself. So at the age of 41 I started putting stories that I told down on paper and did drawings to help illustrate them...I guess the rest is history.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful career of writing books for children . Who could have guessed that little girl that was having such a tough time in school would end up an illustrator and author. Children and adults alike ask me where I get my ideas...I get them from the same place that you do....MY IMAGINATION... I would guess the reason my imagination is so fertile is because I came from storytelling and, WE DID NOT OWN A T.V.!!!!!!!!! You see, when one is a writer, actor, dancer, musician; a creator of any kind, he or she does these things because they listen to that "voice" inside of them. All of us have that "voice". It is where all inspired thoughts come from....but when you have electronic screens in front, of you, speaking that voice for you... it DROWNS OUT THE VOICE! When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to listen to the voice, turn off the T.V. and

"LISTEN...LISTEN...LISTEN.

"Now that I have moved back to Union City I am intending to open my house and community and invite people to come there to take part in writing seminars, story telling festivals, literature conferences and various events that celebrate children's literature."

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.

The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
"I was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1944. Soon after my birth I lived in Williamston, Michigan and then moved onto my grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan.

"I lived on the farm with my mom and Grandparents until 1949. That is when my Babushka (my grandmother) died and we prepared to move away from Michigan. I must say that living on that little farm with them was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad. In both households I was the apple of my grandparents' eyes! I would say that these relationships with my grandparents have most definitely influenced my life and my work. You probably have noticed that in almost every book that I write there is a very young person who is interacting with an elderly person. Personally, I feel that this is the most valuable experience of my life....having the wonder of knowing both children and elderly people.

"The respect that I learned as a very young person certainly carried over into my life in later years. I have always like hearing stories from these folks. My genuine curiosity for the wonder of living a very long life prepared me to accept the declining years of my own parents.

"To get back to the farm in Union City...this place was so magical to me that I have never forgotten it! This was the place where I heard such wonderful stories told...this was the place that a real meteor fell into our font yard...that very meteorite is now our family headstone in the graveyard here in Union City.

"Did I tell you that I now live in Union City? This is after living in Oakland, California for almost 37 years. But, you see, every year I'd come back to Michigan to see my Dad and family.

"Anyway...

"In 1949 we left the farm to move, first to Coral Gables, Florida. I lived there with my Mom and my brother, Richard, for almost 3 years. Then we moved to Oakland, California. I remained there for most of my young life on into my adulthood. We lived on Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District. What I loved the most about this neighborhood is that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike.

"It is on Ocean View that I met my best friend, Stewart Grinnell Washington. We are best friends to this day! He has a younger brother, Winston and three sisters; Jackie, Terry and Robin. When I was a student in elementary school I wasn't a very good student. I had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn't! I thought I was dumb. I didn't like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn't do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero's, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact, most learning disabled children are actually GENIUSES! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

"I went on to University, majored in Fine Art, then went on to do a graduate degree and even ended up with a Ph.D. in Art History. For a time I restored ancient pieces of art for museums. I eventually became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and devoted much of my days to their education and upbringing.

"I did not start writing children's books until I was 41 years old. Mind you the "art" has always been there for me most of my life. Apparently one of the symptoms of my disability in academics is the ability of draw very, very well. So drawing, painting and sculpture has always been a part of my life even before I started illustrating my books. The books were quite a surprise, really. Mind you, I came from a family of incredible storytellers. My mother's people were from the Ukraine and Russia...my father's people were from Ireland. My extended family,(Stewart's family) were from the bayous of Louisiana...also great story tellers. When you are raised on HEARING stories.....NOT SEEING THEM, you become very good at telling stories yourself. So at the age of 41 I started putting stories that I told down on paper and did drawings to help illustrate them...I guess the rest is history.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful career of writing books for children . Who could have guessed that little girl that was having such a tough time in school would end up an illustrator and author. Children and adults alike ask me where I get my ideas...I get them from the same place that you do....MY IMAGINATION... I would guess the reason my imagination is so fertile is because I came from storytelling and, WE DID NOT OWN A T.V.!!!!!!!!! You see, when one is a writer, actor, dancer, musician; a creator of any kind, he or she does these things because they listen to that "voice" inside of them. All of us have that "voice". It is where all inspired thoughts come from....but when you have electronic screens in front, of you, speaking that voice for you... it DROWNS OUT THE VOICE! When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to listen to the voice, turn off the T.V. and

"LISTEN...LISTEN...LISTEN.

"Now that I have moved back to Union City I am intending to open my house and community and invite people to come there to take part in writing seminars, story telling festivals, literature conferences and various events that celebrate children's literature."

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.

The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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