When Lightning Comes in a Jar

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Overview

A young girl describes the family reunion at her grandmother's house, from the food, and baseball, and photos, to the flickering fireflies on the lawn.

A young girl describes the family reunion at her grandmother's house, from the food and baseball and photos to the flickering fireflies on the lawn.

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Overview

A young girl describes the family reunion at her grandmother's house, from the food, and baseball, and photos, to the flickering fireflies on the lawn.

A young girl describes the family reunion at her grandmother's house, from the food and baseball and photos to the flickering fireflies on the lawn.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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: 9780756981969
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Pages: 37
  • Sales rank: 586,784
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    My favorite!  

    My favorite!  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2004

    Disappointing

    I am a teacher of third graders and every year I read many books by Patricia Polacco to my students. This author is one of the best, however this book just seemed to be dragging on and on. My students were bored as well. I expected a more exciting book from this author.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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