cover image One More Jar of Jam

One More Jar of Jam

Michelle Sumovich, illus. by Gracey Zhang. Dial, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-11267-0

In a picture book debut, Sumovich writes a second-person ode to a beloved mulberry tree that invites readers right in. Via warmly stroked spreads, Zhang (When Rubin Plays) paints the child narrator, portrayed with brown skin, perched in the tree’s branches: “If you ever have a mulberry tree,” the text begins, “you’ll learn/ there’s nowhere sweeter to sit/ than on branches heavy with warm berries.” Beginning with the same initial line, successive verses describe jam making, and jam jar counting, too, as the precious jars dwindle, “Gone to sticky Grandma’s table./ Gone to sweeten neighbors’ bread.” When a storm topples the tree (“Its thick trunk stretched across the lawn,/ broken and cracked and done”) the summer proves as “fruitless and dry as toast.” But the following spring reveals a miracle that might just extend to the titular “one more jar.” Knowledge that comes with the caretaking and harvesting of trees, a seasonal scale, and affectionate images of an interracial family who share joy and loss together all flavor this personal-feeling tale. Ages 4–8. Agent (for author and illustrator): Hannah Mann, Writers House. (Aug.)